Raleigh teen charged with possession of assault rifle that may be linked to double homicide

Weapon may be linked to death of Garner couple, police say

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comJanuary 16, 2013 

Gemby Itzamar Estrada, charged by Wake sheriff's deputies Tuesday with possession of an assault rifle that may be linked to a double homicide.


— Wake County sheriff’s deputies have charged an 18-year-old woman with possession of an assault rifle that may be linked to the shooting deaths of a Garner couple this month.

Investigators seized the weapon, a version of the Russian-designed AK-47, from the teen’s apartment in North Raleigh to determine if it was used in “a double homicide and shooting,” according to arrest warrants.

Investigators have also accused the young woman of lying about having any knowledge of the weapon being inside her home, according to the warrants.

Gemby Itzamar Estrada of 4000-C Water Oak Drive was charged with one felony count of possession of a weapon of mass destruction and one misdemeanor count of resisting a public officer, according to the warrants.

Immigration officials have placed a retainer on the teen, a native of Mexico, because they think she may be in the country illegally. Immigration documents filed Tuesday listed the woman’s name as Itzamar Estrada Gembe.

A sheriff’s office spokeswoman would not say which double homicide and shooting the warrants refer to, but deputies are investigating the fatal shootings of a married couple in their home outside Garner on Jan. 5.

Deputies found Jose Samuel Flores Mendoza and his wife, Maria Savaria Mendoza, both 34, in their townhome at 708 Colonial Drive around 12:30 a.m. after a neighbor called 911 to report loud noises, according to the sheriff’s office. The caller told the dispatcher that someone was pounding on a door and that when she walked outside to check on the commotion she could hear a child crying inside the Mendoza’s home, according to a copy of the 911 recording.

Another neighbor reported hearing at least two dozen gunshots coming from the Mendoza’s home. The neighbor went inside the home afterward and found the couple’s bodies and the frightened but unharmed 3-year-old.

The neighbor told The News & Observer she saw several long brass bullet shells on the floor. Arrest warrants on Tuesday indicated that the assault rifle seized from Estrada’s home fires a round that’s more than 1 1/2 inches long.

Investigators say Estrada lied Jan. 11 when she told a sheriff’s deputy, T.S. Barefoot, that she did not know if there was an assault rife inside her home, court records show. Barefoot returned to the home Tuesday and found the weapon, court records how.

The sheriff’s spokeswoman declined to comment about the weapon investigators seized from Estrada’s apartment. The arrest warrant identified it as an AKMS, a version of the AK-47 with a long, curving magazine and folding metal shoulder stock designed in the 1950s by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It was first used by the Soviet Army in 1959 and has subsequently been used worldwide during wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Chechnya.

Estrada is in custody at the Wake County jail. She is being held under $10,500 bail, court records show.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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