MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD (WJLA) – A man and women were eating Wendy’s late night food in a vehicle parked along a silent residential street. A shifty-looking person in a hooded sweatshirt appeared at the front driver’s side window, made an odd comment and then opened fire, assassination-style.
Police located the victims, a 22-year-old man and a 36-year-old woman, bleeding out in the vehicle. One had gunshot wounds to the left shoulder, right bicep, forehead, scalp and left thumb. The other had been hit in the left hand and wrist. For point-blank range, both victims were incredibly lucky to be alive.
Paramedics took the man and woman to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda for treatment. From their respective hospital beds, the victims told detectives they were stopped along the 3800 block of Palmira Lane, near the Aspen Hill Shopping Center and Harmony Hills Elementary School. It was midnight on Dec. 15, 2016.
The victims said they recalled seeing a person walking down Palmira. They thought it was strange due to the late hour and chilly weather conditions. Their nerves increased when that person reappeared at their car window, stating, “I’m looking for my mans.” The hooded individual then pulled out a black handgun and opened fire. At least five bullets shattered the vehicle’s glass windows. No valuables were taken during the ambush, a clear sign that robbery was not the motive.
The victims stated the shooter looked young and spoke English, but had a “noticeable Hispanic accent” and a “big nose.” They also managed to note he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, winter knit cap and dark-colored soccer pants with white stripes.
For 13 months, the shooting remained open and unsolved. However, last week Montgomery County Police formally filed charges against an alleged MS-13 gang member and undocumented immigrant: Danny Hernandez-Solorzano, 20, of Silver Spring.
Two confidential sources are credited with helping investigators compile the felony case. Those sources revealed that MS-13 members believed the 22- and 36-year-old victims were friends of a rival gang, thus making them “enemies” of MS-13. Hernandez-Solorzano, police allege, was tapped to do the dirty work, but failed at executing the task in full. Hernandez-Solorzano reportedly goes by the nickname “el titere,” which translates to “the puppet” in English.
The two victims, who police say have permanent scars from where the bullets entered their bodies, also identified Hernandez-Solorzano as the shooter during a photograph array.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Hernandez-Solorzano is a Honduran native “illegally present” in the United States. On Dec. 20, 2016, ICE filed an immigration detainer against the 20-year-old who is in Montgomery County custody.
Hernandez-Solorzano has been in-and-out of the court system since he became an adult. In fact, Montgomery County Police arrested and cited Hernandez-Solorzano three times before charges were ever filed in this double shooting case, per Maryland Judiciary Case Search.
•Nov. 13, 2016 – Authorities charged Hernandez-Solorzano with seven criminal counts, including first-degree assault and use of a dangerous weapon with the intent to injure. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors greatly reduced the case to a simple second-degree assault charge. In June 2017, a judge sentenced Hernandez-Solorzano to six months in jail with no probation upon his release.
•Dec. 19, 2016 – Police cited Hernandez-Solorzano with trespassing on private property. Prosecutors later dropped the case.
•Aug. 17, 2017 – While serving time for the November 2016 assault case, Hernandez-Solorzano allegedly got entangled in a jailhouse fracas with rival gang members. At least one correctional employee was injured during the melee. Police consequently charged him with assaulting a jailer.
Maryland defense attorney Luis Gomez is representing Hernandez-Solorzano pro bono in the pending jailhouse fight case. When reached by telephone late Thursday night, Gomez described his client as a “quiet” and “nice” guy.
“[Danny] doesn’t seem to be keeping of the character of what you’re describing,” Gomez remarked.