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Grand Jury Hands Up Indictments for Three Men Accused of Murdering Northwest Students

Late Thursday, a Montgomery County Grand Jury handed up indictments for the three men charged with the brutal murder of two Northwest High School students on the eve of their graduation in June.

Jose Canales-Yanez, 25, of Gaithersburg, Edgar Garcia-Gaona, 24, of Gaithersburg and his brother Roger Garcia, 19, of Germantown were each indicted on seven counts. The three men were indicted on murder, robbery and weapons charges, according to records filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court and a spokesman for county prosecutors.

The three are charged with gunning down Northwest seniors Shadi Najjar, 17, and Artem Ziberov, 18, as they sat in Najjar’s blue Honda Civic on Monday, June 5 on Gallery Court in Montgomery Village. Najjar and Ziberov were to graduation from Northwest High School as members of the Class of 2017 the following morning.

According to police, the three gunmen fired 30 rounds into the Honda Civic, shooting Najjar four times and Ziberov 10 times.

The Grand Jury indicted all three defendants on two counts each for the murder of Najjar and Ziberov, two counts each of conspiracy to commit the murder of Najjar and Ziberov, two counts each of use of a firearm during a violent crime or felony for shooting of Najjar and Ziberov, and one count of armed robbery for the theft of Najjar’s cell phone. Garcia-Gaona picked up an additional count because he was Felon in possession of the firearm.

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 in early June 2017 begins way back in December 2016. Montgomery County Police and prosecutors contend that the shooting of Najjar and Ziberov was retribution for a December 2016 theft of drugs in Germantown by Najjar.

According to charging documents, “An interview with Najjar’s girlfriend revealed he committed a drug-related robbery in December 2016, or January 2017, where it is rumored that he stole drugs from a female during a drug deal. It would be noted that multiple witnesses interviewed during the course of the investigation stated Najjar both sold and used marijuana.”

Charging documents indicate that Najjar sent a message to his girlfriend on the evening of June 5 stating that he was planning to sell a graduation ticket to Roger Garcia. “This was the last communication Najjar had prior to his death,” said court documents.

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.”

Police sources said that incident was to be a drug deal between Garcia-Gaona and what police call a small-time gang known as The Hit Squad. According to sources, Garcia-Gaona was to purchase drugs from the group, but the group decided to r