WOODSTOCK — Authorities claim several men drove from Pennsylvania to Shenandoah County on New Year’s Day with the intention of shooting at two people in a vehicle.
Judge Amy Tisinger denied bond requests in Shenandoah County General District Court on Friday from each of the four co-defendants charged with offenses related to a Jan. 1 incident that occurred in an apartment complex parking lot just outside of Woodstock. Tisinger cited the severity of the charges and the fact that some of the defendants have no ties to the community.
Tisinger had postponed the defendants’ bond hearings from Jan. 4 after requesting that the Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Strecky provide more information about circumstances of the case. Law enforcement agents did not file a criminal complaint with the arrest warrants.
Danny Olivera, 25, of Reading, Pennsylvania, appeared first with his attorney Bradley Pollack. Olivera stands charged with two counts of attempted aggravated malicious wounding, two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated malicious wounding, one count of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and one count of conspiracy to use a firearm in the commission of a felony. A Spanish-to-English interpreter translated the proceedings for Olivera.
Strecky cited information in the case provided by Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office investigator K.A. Stroop. The investigation showed that co-defendant Cristian Rodriguez Santiago confronted the two alleged victims in the case in the parking lot of the Sheetz in Woodstock in the late evening of Dec. 31, Strecky said. During the verbal argument over a property dispute, Rodriguez Santiago said to a victim “in a threatening manner that ‘he would take care of it,’” Strecky said. Rodriguez Santiago contacted family members in Reading, and the three other co-defendants drove to Woodstock, according to Stroop’s investigation.
At some point in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, the co-defendants fired on the victims’ vehicle as it sat parked in the parking lot of a neighborhood on Lakeview Drive, Strecky said. The driver of the victims’ vehicle tried to drive away as the defendants continued to shoot at them, she added.
Law enforcement agents found at least 15 bullet holes in the victims’ vehicle – front lights, hood, a quarter panel, the driver’s side door and the rear door on the driver’s side, according to Strecky. An independent witness saw the incident and gave information to law enforcement corroborating the statements provided by the alleged victims, Strecky said.
Law enforcement agents later found the suspects’ vehicle in Edinburg. Authorities saw the suspects walking away from the vehicle. Law enforcement agents recovered a .22-caliber, assault-style rifle and a handgun as well as .22-caliber shell casings in the parking lot, according to Strecky.
The prosecutor said that investigators believe that because three of the co-defendants live in Pennsylvania, that they all came to Shenandoah County for the sole purpose of shooting at the victims. A defendant also corroborated the investigator’s theory, Strecky said.
Law enforcement agents at the scene bagged each defendant’s hands to test for gunshot residue, Strecky said. Investigators also collected DNA from the defendants for testing, she added.
Pollack said defense evidence would show that the alleged victims fired out of the vehicle at his client and the co-defendants.
Strecky said evidence of the location of the bullet holes would not be consistent with someone firing a weapon from inside the victim’s vehicle. Pollack also argued that the prosecutor did not provide evidence as to whether or not investigators recovered bullets from the alleged shooting.
“I believe that there was no intention ... that this man or any of his accomplices had any intention in harming the people in the vehicle ’cause if they were, if they had these kind of weapons, they’d be dead right now,” Pollack said.
Tisinger responded: “You’re just saying because they’re bad shots; that’s why we don’t have a murder here.”
“But that’s not our position at all either,” Pollack said. “Again, there is no evidence.”
Pollack, in arguing for bond, said his client has no criminal record and no incidents of failing to appear in court. Pollack pointed out that five members of his client’s family came from Pennsylvania and appeared in court to support Olivera, including the defendant’s mother, who flew from their native Puerto Rico.
“He is a busybody,” Pollack said. “He’s not involved in criminal activity. He’s not involved in the drug trade. That’s what all these people here would say.”
Pollack said his client posed no threat to the community.
Tisinger explained to Olivera her reasons for denying the bond request.
“The biggest issue here, though, is certainly the severity of the alleged facts and circumstances, and I am not prejudging although it may appear that I am. I am not,” Tisinger said. “But bond does require the court to consider some of the facts and circumstances and the weight of the evidence.
“The severity level of the allegations here are enormous and again I am concerned that, although you have a great deal of family support and I appreciate the effort they have made to come today – that shows they do in fact extremely care about you and have made great strides today – but you really do have no ties to this particular community,” Tisinger added.
The judge told Olivera he and his attorney could appeal her decision to the circuit court.
Authorities have also charged:
• Cristian Rodriguez Santiago, 18, of Edinburg, with two counts of being a principal in the second degree to attempted aggravated malicious wounding, two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated malicious wounding, one count of being a principal in the second degree to using a firearm in commission of a felony, and one count of conspiracy to use a firearm in the commission of a felony
• Jose Santiago Garcia, 27, of Reading, Pennsylvania, with two counts of attempted aggravated malicious wounding, two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated malicious wounding, one count of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and one count of conspiracy to use a firearm in the commission of a felony.
• Ferdinand Rodriguez Santiago, 20, of Bernville, Pennsylvania, with two counts of being a principal in the second degree to attempted aggravated malicious wounding, two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated malicious wounding, one count of being a principal in the second degree to using a firearm in commission of a felony, and one count of conspiracy to use a firearm in the commission of a felony
Tisinger also heard a bond request for Jose Santiago Garcia from his defense attorney Charles Ramsey. Strecky provided the same details about the case as provided in the first bond hearing. Ramsey told Tisinger that his client would contend that the co-defendants acted in self-defense. Tisinger sided with Strecky and, for the same reasons as stated in Olivera’s hearing, denied Ramsey’s bond request.
Tisinger rescheduled Ferdinand Rodriguez Santiago’s bond hearing for Tuesday. Martin Scheller represents the defendant. She also denied a bond request for Cristian Rodriguez Santiago. Jillian Curfman represents the defendant.
The judge scheduled preliminary hearings for Olivera, Cristian Rodriguez Santiago and Jose Santiago Garcia for March 22.
Defendants remain held at Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail.