Dropped beer bottle linked suspect to Delano cemetery shooting: reports

Crime Watch

DELANO, Calif. (KGET) — Police may have had a harder time identifying Ray Anthony Torres if he’d laid off beer.

A Budweiser bottle dropped by a man who witnesses said was the gunman in a fatal shooting at North Kern Cemetery had Torres’ DNA on it, according to newly released court documents. Witnesses told investigators they saw the shooter drinking beer by a gravesite moments before he opened fire.

Bolstering the case against the 19-year-old was surveillance video that showed the shooter running from the cemetery. A probation officer who examined the footage said the gunman strongly resembled Torres, who had been part of his caseload two years ago, according to documents filed by Delano police.

Investigators examined a DMV photo that showed Torres with two white metal earrings in each ear — just like the gunman — and a slight slant to the left side of his lips that was also noticeable in footage of the shooter, the documents say.

Arrested in August in Ohio, Torres is charged with first-degree murder and faces a life term in prison if convicted. His next hearing is Dec. 7.

The shooting is believed to be gang-related.

Torres is an admitted gang member and there were photos of him on social media making hand gestures and wearing clothing associated with Delano northern gangs, the reports say.

The victim, Joel Santos Maldonado, 30, was wearing colors associated with southern gangs at the time he was shot, according to the documents.

Witnesses to the shooting, which occurred shortly after 5:30 p.m., said the gunman had been drinking beer while standing by a grave. One witness described him as “chunky” and wearing a red hat, black T-shirt and blue denim shorts.

That witness told police the shooter drank from a dark-colored beer bottle and, after the shooting, he dropped the bottle as he ran. The shooter was only about 10 feet away, according to the witness.

Another witness reported hearing the two men curse at each other, the documents say.

The bottle was found along the path the gunman took, police said. Another Budweiser bottle was found by a gravesite. It’s believed Torres was visiting the gravesite of his former brother-in-law, according to the reports.

Torres’ Snapchat data showed he was in Ohio, and detectives continued to monitor his whereabouts until DNA evidence connected him to the crime, police said.

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