Man charged with attempted murder pleads not guilty; police say he has known gang ties
Special to the Sierra Sun
A man charged with attempted murder in Placer County has pleaded not guilty, in what authorities are saying appears to be a gang-related incident.
Samuel Reyes Navarro, 27, of Incline Village, is facing five felony counts, including attempted murder, unlawful discharging of a firearm, and a felony charge stemming from Navarro’s purported gang affiliation. He is also facing a felony charge of drug possession after he was allegedly found with over a half ounce of suspected methamphetamine on his person when arrested.
Navarro entered the not guilty plea last week. His defense attorney, Dan Koukol said the case has not been set for trial.
On June 20, in the area of Kings Beach, Navarro apparently engaged in a verbal confrontation with another man who may have also been affiliated with a gang, according to Placer County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Powers, who reviewed witness statements regarding the incident.
The confrontation between the two men escalated, with both men apparently shouting gang rhetoric at each other. Navarro then pulled out a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and fired the weapon just above the other man’s head several times before driving way, Powers said.
The confrontation appears to have started after Navarro took exception to a red hat worn by the other man that signifies affiliation with the Norteños, a Hispanic gang that is predominant in Northern California. Navarro appears to be affiliated with the Norteños’ rival gang, the Sureños (traditionally more active in Southern California), whose identifying color tends to be blue, Powers said.
Following his arrest, Navarro admitted to having at one time been a member of the Sureños, but claimed that he no longer had any involvement in the gang. Navarro does have some prior contact with law enforcement in gang-involved incidents, the sergeant added.
Navarro and the victim appear to have loosely known each other prior to the incident, although the extent of their history, as well as the other man’s possible gang involvement, are unknown to law enforcement at this point.
The incident is reflective of a growing trend of gang-related crimes reported to police in Placer County since the beginning of 2020, a shift that is of some concern to local law enforcement, according to Powers.
“In the past decade, gang activity here has tapered off a lot, but it appears as though since 2020 that trend has tended to be changing, it could just be a cluster of isolated incidents or it could be a growing concern,” the sergeant said, highlighting a significant increase in gang attire worn in local schools as something that police have seen.
Following the alleged shooting, Navarro drove away from the scene in his vehicle. Witnesses reported the incident to law enforcement, and the following night a sheriff’s deputy saw Navarro driving in the Kings Beach area.
The deputy contacted Navarro, who put his hands up and appeared to be cooperative, but the suspect then ran, abandoning his vehicle. Sheriff’s deputies immediately initiated a pursuit, and Navarro was seen running into an occupied trailer park nearby, according to Powers.
Sheriff’s deputies locked down the trailer park, forming a perimeter, and were able to eventually locate and arrest Navarro, who did not put up a struggle, Powers said.
Navarro was initially also charged with evading arrest as a result of the pursuit, although that charge was later dropped, according to court records.
Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com
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