TOWSON, MD (WBAL) – Seven people are in custody in connection with the July murder of a 21-year-old man in Loch Raven Village in Towson.
The 11 News I-team has learned the killing is gang-related.
According to investigators, the victim made a hand gesture associated with a certain gang, and a rival gang killed him because of that.
A small memorial now marks the area where Daniel Cuellar died.
“Multiple people stabbed him multiple times. We know from the medical examiner that the trauma caused to his body was knife wounds,” Officer Jennifer Peach, of the Baltimore County Police Department, said.
According to police charging documents, the weapons used were a machete and a smaller knife. Police said this is not a random act of violence, but neighbors we spoke with are still worried.
“I don’t think anybody can tolerate that, and I think it is a threat to all of us as a citizen, county resident, you know,” resident Donald Matulonis said.
Police picked the seven suspects as they headed south in Mississippi.
Their names are as follows:
-Jonathan Escobar-Hernandez, 20..
-Marlon Leonardo Fabian-Flores, 20.
-Edwin Edgardo Garcia-Martir, 18.
-Hugo Portillo-Chavez, 31.
-Jose Fausto Rivera-Coreas, 19.
-Odaliz Rosas-Yanez, 20.
-Leonel Alexander Velasquez-Hernadez, 16.
All seven have been charged with first-degree murder, including Velasquez-Hernadez, who as been charged as an adult.
On Thursday, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed six out of seven have detainers.
Officials said of the six, five are Salvadoran, one is Mexican and all here illegally. Officials have identified all as MS-13 members in ICE gang databases.
Witnesses last saw Cuellar alive at a 24-hour laundromat. Surveillance footage from the laundry captured images of the suspects and their vehicle. The suspects had been following the victim.
Court papers detail a chilling and callous motive gang violence. Prior to the murder, the victim had been seen making a hand gesture affiliated with the 18th street gang. This gang is historically associated with an area in Honduras.
Court documents indicate because Cuellar made a rival gang hand gesture, a decision was made to kill him.
Police said the suspects attacked Cuellar when he stepped in front of his apartment building to smoke a cigarette.
“Yeah, it’s pretty disturbing, even though this is Towson, this is a very tight-knit community in the Loch Raven Village area. You still hear sirens and everything all the time, but when something happens so close and as violent as that is, it’s pretty disturbing,” resident Vince Carchedi said.
All the suspects are being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 20.