~Murders Were Retaliation for Robbery
~Connected to Another Shooting
~Shadi Najjar was Target
Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger announced late Saturday night that MCPD had arrested three men in connection with the brutal killing of Shadi Najjar and Artem Ziberov as they sat in Najjar’s blue Honda Civic on Monday, June 5 on Gallery Court.
Police have arrested three men, Roger Garcia, 19, of 19515 Frederick Road in Germantown; Edgar Garcia-Gaona, 24, of 125 Lamont Lane in Gaithersburg, and Jose Ovilson Canales-Yanez, 25, of the 18400 block of Cape Jasmine Way in Gaithersburg. All three were arrested on Saturday, June 17 and are scheduled to have bail review hearings on Monday, June 19 at 1:00 pm in Rockville. Roger Garcia is a member of the Class of 2016 at Northwest High School.
Chief Manger said that police were able to break this case thanks to information from the community. “Although detectives have made these three arrests, this by no means should be interpreted that the investigation has concluded,” said Chief Manger. “These most recent developments are the result of the community taking an active role in this investigation. It is believed that, considering the progress made over the past 36 hours, there are additional sources of information who have yet to come forward.”
The tragic tale of how two honor students end up shot dead as they sat in a car hours before they were to graduate high school begins way back in December 2016.
Detectives believe that Shadi Najjar was involved in the theft of drugs and/or an iPad from a female on Wednesday, December 14, 2016.
During the press conference held June 17, Chief Manger said, “An interview with a friend of Najjar indicated that he committed a drug-related robbery in December of 2016 or January 2017 where it is rumored that he stole drugs from a girl during a drug deal. This investigation also revealed the just prior to his death Najjar sent a message to this same friend stating that he was planning to sell a graduation ticket to a friend named Roger Garcia. This was the last communication Najjar had prior to his death it occurred at approximately 10:15 pm.”
Investigators found and interviewed Roger Garcia at his residence. Roger Garcia claimed he did not know Najjar or Ziberov and did not purchase a graduation ticket from them.
Detectives developed that Roger Garcia’s brother, Edgar Garcia-Gaona, was shot on February 10, 2017, during a botched drug deal, also in Montgomery Village. Garcia-Gaona was reported to have been carrying a weapon and did exchange gunshots with his assailants.
That shooting took place in the 8500 block of Hawk Run Terrace at about 2:02 pm on Feb. 10 and left one man dead. In a press release at the time, MCPD said “Officers from the 6th District and Fire and Rescue personnel responded and located a male victim in the parking lot area of the neighborhood suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. The victim succumbed to his injuries at the scene. The homicide victim is being identified as Wassi Harron Raheem Young, age 20, of Vermont Avenue in Hyattsville.”
Later in that press release, police said, “During the investigation, detectives learned that a 23-year-old male had arrived at a local hospital with gunshot wounds. Investigators spoke with this male and determined that he was shot during the same incident in which the homicide victim, Young, was shot.”
Edgar Garcia-Gaona turned 24 on April 1, 2017. Manger did not say if police have plans to charge Garcia-Gaona with the murder of Wassi Harron Raheem Young.
The investigation into the February shooting on Hawk Run Terrace led detectives to Jose Canales-Yanez and his girlfriend/spouse Kara Francine Yanez. Jose Canales-Yanez who identified himself to police as a friend of Edgar Garcia-Gaona.
Police do not have any connection between the Hawk Run Terrance shootings and Najjar and Ziberov, however, that incident connected Roger Garcia (to whom Najjar told a friend that he was going to sell a graduation ticket too) and his Edgar Garcia-Gaona (one of the Hawk Run Terrace shooters). It also allowed police to connect Garcia-Gaona to Jose Canales-Yanez.
Detectives connected Canales-Yanez to his then girlfriend, now wife, Kara Yanez. And police believe that Kara Yanez is connected to Shadi Najjar through a robbery and police report filed in December of 2016.
On December 14, 2016, Kara Yanez filed a police report in Montgomery County stating that she was a victim of a robbery. “The report indicated that a blue Honda Civic had approached her while she was walking and the front passenger in that vehicle grabbed her iPad and dragged her approximately 50 feet with the car,” said Manger.
While police could not confirm this, Germantown Pulse believes that the Dec. 14 incident took place in the 19700 block of Crystal Rock Drive in Germantown, in the Hamptons at Town Center Apartments. Germantown Pulse covered the incident, which was originally dispatched to Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service units as a pedestrian struck because a female was dragged by a vehicle.
However, after speaking with police on the scene, it was determined to be a robbery of some sort involving an iPad and not a pedestrian incident. Germantown Pulse ultimately decided not to post a news story about the incident back in December because, while it seemed odd, it did not seem to merit a news story at the time. However, photos were taken and saved.
Detectives believe that the blue Honda Civic which dragged Kara Yanez and stole her iPad, was the same blue Honda Civic Najjar and Ziberov were found shot to death in on Gallery Court.
“It is believed that this is the robbery that Najjar, the victim in this homicide, is believed to have participated in,” said Manger. Police seemed to indicate that more than just an iPad was stolen in this incident and a quantity of drugs were also stolen or, at least, Yanez told police an iPad was stolen, but the theft was actually drugs.
Manger said that Yanez is not charged. “She was the victim of the robbery in a previous case in which Najjar was rumored to have been involved in. That is still under investigation. There is certainly some evidence that could link him to that case.”
“During the investigation police were contacted by a confidential informant. This witness provided details of the crime that were not released to the public and therefore were deemed to be credible,” said Manger. “The person stated that Roger Garcia, Edgar Garcia-Gaona, and Jose Canales-Yanez committed the homicide in retaliation for Najjar’s robbery of Kara Yanez.”
Police believe that Najjar was killed because of the stolen drugs/iPad. Police are unsure if there was a direct motive for killing Artem Ziberov. “We do not know,” said Manger. “We believe that we have a motive for one victim but we are unsure if there was a motive to kill Ziberov as well, or he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We hope to be able to determine that eventually.”
Manger said that investigators are working on “the strong possibility that” the purchase of graduation tickets “was a rouse to get the victims to the location” where they were shot and killed. Manger said that police recovered 30 rounds of three separate caliber weapons from the scene on Gallery Court. He confirmed that Najjar had been shot four times and Ziberov had been shot 10 times in the barrage of gunfire.
On Saturday, June 17, 2017, Montgomery County Police Detectives executed a search warrant at Edgar Garcia-Gaona’s residence at Lamont Lane in Gaithersburg, said, Manger. “During the course of the search detectives located a partial box of Blazer 40 caliber ammunition. It should be noted that at the crime scene that 11 of the 30 shell casings recovered were Blazer 40 caliber shell casings.”
Manger would not confirm that there is any gang activity related to this case. However, he said the investigators have not ruled out gang involvement either. He would also not comment on the immigration status of any of the suspects. “I know that at least one of them has been arrested on previous occasions, and to my knowledge, there were no ICE detainers filed in those cases, but I don’t know their immigration status,” said Manger.
Indeed, according to Maryland Case Search Canales-Yanez was arrested four times in 2016 on charges ranging from possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance with Intent to Distribute in January 2016, to resisting arrest and alcohol-related charges in April 2016, to driving while impaired by alcohol and evading the police in June 2016, and disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and public intoxication in November 2016. He also has a robbery arrest in November 2015 and drug charges in 2012 and 2010.
Manger thanked the community for their help in solving this case. “It was information from the community that helped us get to the point where we were able to make an arrested in this case,” said Manger. “We think that there is more information that folks in the community have that can move us even further along with this case. We continue to ask for the public’s help perhaps with the release of this information and with the release of the names of those who have been arrested we may get more information.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County, which is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for any information that leads to additional arrests and indictments. Tipsters can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Top: The victims: Shadi Najjar and Artem Ziberov.
Next: Roger Garcia, of Germantown, a member of Northwest Class of 2016. Photo courtesy MCPD.
Next: Edgar Garcia-Gaona of Gaithersburg. Photo courtesy MCPD.
Next: Jose Ovilson Canales-Yanez, of Gaithersburg. Photo courtesy MCPD.
Next: Police believe the murders were retaliation for a robbery in which Najjar allegedly stole drugs and/or and iPad from a girl back on Dec. 14, 2016. Germantown Pulse believes this crime took place on Crystal Rock Drive in Germantown. Photo by Germantown Pulse.
Next: Chief Thomas Manger addresses the media at a 10:30 pm press conference at Public Safety Headquarters in Gaithersburg. Photo by Mark Poetker for Germantown Pulse.
Next: Chief Thomas Manger, Major Crimes Detective Lieutenant Nicholas Picerno, and Assistant Chief Russ Hamill. Photo by Mark Poetker for Germantown Pulse
Next: A box of Blazer 40 caliber bullets, the type which was found at the home of one of the suspected killers. Blazer 40 Caliber shell casings were also found at the scene of the murders.
Video: Complete MCPD press conference. Video by Germantown Pulse.