BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Brought into an interview room, Jesus Everardo Rodriguez repeatedly denied involvement in the Arvin shooting that killed a 10-year-old girl and wounded her brother and father.
But Arvin detectives kept pressing. They told him his DNA was found in the suspect vehicle. They displayed photos taken from footage showing him driving the suspect vehicle during a police chase.
“Yeah, that’s me,” he said according to newly-released court documents.
Rodriguez also admitted posting videos on social media showing him holding a rifle and talking about killing people, the documents say. Investigators noted that video was posted after the deadly shooting.
Detectives showed him three photos of Liliana Jimenez, the slain girl. The photos showed the girl in the vehicle into which shots were fired the night of July 17, her body seated in the front passenger seat just as police found her. She was hit twice: in the left shoulder and the back of the head.
A detective asked Rodriguez if he felt bad a little girl had died.
“I do feel bad but it wasn’t us,” Rodriguez said according to the documents.
He continued to deny involvement, but investigators believe he and another person whose name is redacted in the reports may have committed the killing in retaliation for the death of a fellow gang member.
The vehicle Rodriguez and the other person were in was also used in a shooting that happened June 1 in Lamont, according to the documents. Two men were wounded but survived.
Rodriguez was charged with murder and other crimes in Kern County Superior Court following his arrest in September, but because he was 17 at the time of the shooting his case was sent to Juvenile Court where a judge will determine whether he can be tried as an adult.
It’s unclear when that decision will be made.
Liliana, her 12-year-old brother and father were shot outside the father’s home on North Hill Street shortly before midnight, police said. They had just arrived when a vehicle pulled alongside and shots were fired into the father’s vehicle.
Liliana was declared dead at the scene.
The girl’s father was wearing an Atlanta Braves hat, which police note in the documents is commonly worn by Arvina gang members because of the dark blue color and large “A.” The father denied being a gang member and told police he didn’t know who shot him.
The father’s brother, who witnessed the shooting and rear-ended the suspect vehicle with his pickup, told police it was possible the suspects mistook the father for a gang member.
Rodriguez has multiple tattoos linking him to the rival Varrio Chico Lamont gang, police say in the documents.
He has an “LV” tattooed on the right side of his face, three dots in a triangular pattern by his left eye that commonly represent allegiance to Southern gangs, a large “L” on his throat and a “KC” that police believe stand for “Lamont” and “Kern County,” respectively.
An upside down “A” tattooed on his right forearm may be meant as a form of disrespect toward Arvin, police say in the filings, and a large “12” on his right wrist could stand for “L,” the 12th letter of the alphabet.
The Kern Regional Crime Lab found DNA profiles for Rodriguez and two others in the suspect vehicle, a black BMW 325i, according to the documents. DNA belonging to Rodriguez was found on five items: a Raiders key lanyard, the outer side of the steering wheel cover, a portion of a car key, and on two black Pro Club T-shirts.