Two landscapers are killed. Some say the suspect should have been locked up.
Anaya Hernandez, 24, and Rivera Guzman, 48, were at work doing landscaping work when they were shot at around 7.30am on July 16. Police linked the shooting to a burglary at the Alexandria Assembly apartments and said the landscapers were “innocent bystanders.” »
“They had just left. I walked with my husband for two blocks, with his breakfast, bread in a bag,” said Laura Hernandez, the wife and mother of the victims. “It wasn’t even 20 minutes; it was about 15 minutes when we got the call that he was on the ground.
Police released few details about what happened, but the shooting reverberated throughout northern Virginia. The man named by police as a suspect in the case – Francis Deonte Rose, 27 – had been released from law enforcement in neighboring Arlington County several months earlier after prosecutors dropped charges of drugs and weapons brought against him. The county’s police union and the Republican Party of Virginia criticized the Democratic Commonwealth attorney over the move – although it came after a judge suppressed evidence in the case, ruling that the police had illegally searched Rose’s bag.
Police: Two men killed in Alexandria were bystanders doing landscaping
Rose has not been charged with the Alexandria murders and is being held for burglary and unlawful entry into a building. Alexandria Commonwealth attorney Bryan Porter said Thursday that new charges are not expected to be filed in the coming days. An attorney listed for Rose in court filings for the unlawful entry charge, Taso R. Saunders, did not respond to requests for comment.
Rivera Guzman told his wife that two men approached him around 2:30 p.m. the day before the shooting, she said, asking if he was the owner of the trucks and landscaping equipment parked outside apartments.
It seemed suspicious, Hernandez said, but “they didn’t think it was about them.”
“We had no reason to fear them, because we had no problems and we had no money,” she said.
DC and Arlington police charged separately Rose with carrying firearms illegally in the past, according to court records. Rose was charged in 2019 with unlawful possession of a loaded .45 caliber handgun that DC police recovered after knocking it to the ground during a foot chase. Rose pleaded guilty, but court records show he did not appear for recent probation hearings.
In October In 2020, Rose was charged in Arlington County with unlawful possession of a firearm with intent to distribute heroin, possession of the gun as a convicted nonviolent offender, possession of cocaine and possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute. A little less than a year and a half later, the case would be dismissed.
Court records show that Rose was a passenger in a car that Arlington County police had pulled over because the registered owner had a suspended license. Police smelled marijuana and ordered the driver and Rose out of the vehicle, court records show.
Rose was carrying a Louis Vuitton crossbody bag strapped over her shoulder and police told her to leave it in the car, according to a court transcript. Police found a loaded Glock handgun inside the bag and cocaine and fentanyl in his pockets, according to court records.
Rose was held in jail after being charged. But in February, an Arlington County judge ruled that the search that found the gun and drugs was unconstitutional. Her attorney in that case, Molly Newton, successfully argued that police lacked the legal authority to search the bag because it was “attached” to Rose, citing a 2002 decision by the Virginia Court of Appeals. With no probable cause to search anything other than the car, the drugs in Rose’s pockets and the gun in her shoulder bag could not be admitted as evidence in court, Newton argued.
Arlington County Circuit Judge William T. Newman Jr. suppressed evidence from the search and noted he had a similar Louis Vuitton bag. Prosecutors immediately decided to drop the charges.
“Maybe it was a small crime he was guilty of, but now there are victims,” Hernandez said of Rose. “I know that if he is in prison, my son and my husband, they will not come back. They are gone forever. And even if I find it hard to believe, that’s how it is. I accept it. But this man can’t get out. He can’t go out.
After Anaya Hernandez and Rivera Guzman were shot and killed, a Virginia Republican-run Twitter account blamed Arlington Commonwealth attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti (D). “If she had done her job, two people would be alive today,” the tweet read.
Dehghani-Tafti responded on Twitter, calling the landscapers’ deaths a tragedy and the Virginia GOP accusation an “outrageous and irresponsible lie.”
“The facts: we indicted the defendant and secured a grand jury indictment; we asked that he be denied bail; he was detained for 2 years before the trial; he moved to suppress the evidence; court agreed, finding police search violated 4th Amendment,” she tweeted last month.
The Arlington Police Coalition in a press release criticized Dehghani-Tafti’s response and said it should have appealed Newman’s decision or instituted training so that similar issues with police searches do not occur. not reproduce.
An Arlington County police officer testified at the hearing in February that officers in his department were trained to ask people to leave their bags inside any vehicle to be searched, “for reasons of officer safety”. When asked if Arlington police had trained officers in this manner, a department spokeswoman, Ashley Savage, referred to the written search and seizure policy.
“Searches and seizures by officers must be conducted reasonably and in accordance with the Fourth Amendment, applicable state law, and relevant case law, taking into account the totality of the circumstances of an incident in order to ensure a fair and efficient criminal justice process,” the police directive reads.
“In the interest of the safety of everyone at the scene, the passenger has been separated from the bag,” Savage said of the 2020 search for Rose, adding that police actions “were reasonable and cautious about the based on information known at the time, however, we respect the ruling of Arlington County Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman.
After Rose was released by Arlington authorities, another judge scheduled hearings to review Rose’s probation for her 2019 conviction for unlawful possession of a handgun in DC. DC prosecutors filed a request in May to revoke or vary Rose’s probation, according to court records. DC Superior Court Judge Michael Ryan scheduled a hearing to review Rose’s probation in June, but he failed to show up and “lost touch,” according to court records.
A lawyer for Rose told a DC court in April that Rose had “enrolled in a suboxone clinic in Arlington.” DC court records show a judge shortened Rose’s sentence in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The address given by Rose in the records was in Alexandria – in the same block where Anaya Hernandez and Rivera Guzman were shot.
Hernandez said death stalked her family for years, even before arriving in the United States in 2018.
Her eldest son was killed in El Salvador, which the family later left due to rampant gang violence, she said. A second son was killed in Guatemala after Hernandez ignored threats to pay “rent” to the local gang that controlled the territory where she had set up her business, she said.
Rivera Guzman, her husband of 18 years, had adopted her boys and raised them from an early age, she said.
Now her surviving son, Jeremias Ezequiel Anaya Hernandez, worries about how the family will make ends meet. Her brother, Juan Carlos, he said, was supportive of their mother and making moves to establish her new life in the United States.
“He said, ‘I want to do everything in order. First, my house, my business. Then, God willing, my wife and family,” Anaya Hernandez said. “It was his dreams.”