Winston-Salem police have identified the 5-year-old boy who was shot to death Saturday in a drive-by shooting in the city’s southeastern section.
Alberto Rios Navarrette died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, police said.
Oscar Mendez-Rodriguez, 17, of Pleasant Street in Winston-Salem is charged with murder in the child’s death. A 15-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy are also charged with murder in the boy’s death, police said. The teens are being held in custody with no bonds allowed.
Mendez-Rodriguez made his first court appearance Monday.
Officers went to the Cole Village Apartments at 5:20 p.m. Saturday on a report of a shooting. Officers found Alberto with a gunshot wound to the head. The child was in the apartment with his parents, 37-year-old Alberto Rios and 27-year-old Alma Navarrete, and his 3-year-old sister, police said. No one else was injured.
A bullet fired from a car traveling along Cole Ridge Road went through the apartment and struck the child, police said.
Police Lt. Gregory Dorn confirmed that the shooting that killed Alberto was not random, but the child wasn’t the intended target. Investigators received information that a group of individuals were targeted, but police don’t know why. Dorn didn’t elaborate on who was the target of the gunfire.
Police initially said it didn’t appear that the child’s family was the target of the shooting.
Alberto’s death is the 13th homicide in Winston-Salem this year, compared with 12 at this time last year.
Mendez-Rodriguez was dressed in a green jumpsuit Monday for his court appearance.
Judge Laurie Hutchins of Forsyth District Court advised Mendez-Rodriguez that he was charged with murder and asked him what he wanted to do about a lawyer — hire a lawyer; have a lawyer appointed to him; or represent himself.
However, Hutchins appointed him a lawyer because Mendez-Rodriguez is 17. He will be appointed a lawyer through the Capital Defender’s Office.
A Forsyth County prosecutor recommended that Mendez-Rodriguez continue to be held in the Forsyth County Jail with no bond. A bond hearing has been scheduled for Thursday. He also has a court hearing on July 25.
Mendez-Rodriguez was arrested after police developed information that led them to an apartment in the 3800 block of Old Vineyard Road, where they found the vehicle that witnesses said shots were fired from. Police seized a .38-caliber handgun and the silver Nissan Sentra. The 14-year-old boy was arrested at the scene. The 15-year-old boy was arrested at his residence, police have said.
Investigators learned from witnesses that a silver car occupied by several males drove through the area and handguns were fired from the vehicle. Witnesses described multiple rounds being fired, and investigators located several fired shell casings in the area, police said.
Two other apartments and an unoccupied vehicle were also struck. One other damaged apartment was occupied, but no one was injured.
“It appears it was a light-colored sedan coming down Cole Road firing,” said Dorn, who was on the scene about 8:30 p.m. Saturday. “The shots were fired from the moving vehicle.”
“There’s been quite a bit of shootings, discharging of firearms in this area,” he said. “We’re not sure if it’s gang-related.”
Mendez-Rodriguez provided his fingerprints and a DNA sample to the authorities at the jail, a court record shows. Another court paper shows that Mendez-Rodriguez lives with his mother in Winston-Salem. No one answered the phone at a number that was listed for Mendez-Rodriguez’s mother.
Additional details about Mendez-Rodriguez’s life emerged Monday.
Mendez-Rodriguez was stabbed in downtown Winston-Salem on Feb. 8, police said at the time. The assault happened about 1:15 p.m. in the parking of the Winston-Salem Street School at 630 W. Sixth St., police said.
Mendez-Rodriguez was able to drive himself after the assault to the Downtown Health Plaza at 1200 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, police said. He was then taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Mendez-Rodriguez told police that the stabbing took place at the Crystal Towers housing complex at 625 W. Sixth St., a short distance from the school, according to a police news release.
Police looked for several suspects who ran from the scene. Dorn said he believes that someone was arrested in the stabbing, but Dorn didn’t identify the perpetrator.
Investigators are uncertain whether the stabbing of Mendez-Rodriguez was related to his alleged role in Saturday’s shooting.
Mendez-Rodriguez had a run-in with the law earlier this year. He was charged April 18 with driving with no operator’s license and misdemeanor possession of an alcoholic beverage, court records show.
A city police officer accused Mendez-Rodriguez of driving a 2005 BMW on Pleasant Street without being a licensed driver and possessing vodka while being younger than 21, an arrest warrant says.
Mendez-Rodriguez entered a deferred prosecution agreement regarding those charges for six months, court records show.
Under the agreement, Mendez-Rodriguez agreed to complete 25 hours of community service, not to commit any further crimes and to complete an online course on alcohol prevention and intervention. Mendez-Rodriguez was required to complete the agreement’s conditions by Oct. 23.
If Mendez failed to comply with the agreement’s conditions, he would be prosecuted for the driving and alcohol-possession charges.
Anyone with information about the shooting can call Winston-Salem police at 336-773-7700 or Crime Stoppers at 336-727-2800 or its Spanish line at 336-728-3904. Crime Stoppers may also be contacted via “Crime Stoppers of Winston-Salem” on Facebook.