By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
A 27-year-old city man remains a fugitive more than six months after a warrant was issued for his arrest in connection with the shooting death of a Clovis fifth-grader.
Noe Torres, 27, was indicted for first-degree murder in October along with three Clovis brothers in connection with the death of 10-year-old Carlos Perez, who was shot Sept. 15 as he was sleeping and died the next day.
His older brother, Ruben Perez, who was in the room at the time of the shooting, was the intended target, according to police.
A federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution was recently issued for Torres, according to Clovis Police Sgt. Dan Aguilar, the lead investigator on the case.
Based on information received in the course of the investigation, police believe Torres fled to Mexico soon after the shooting and is still there, Aguilar said.
“He is a U.S. citizen but he has family (in Mexico), that’s what we believe,” Aguilar said. “For as long as he’s been gone, someone has been helping him.”
Police have enlisted the help of the FBI, according to Aguilar. Border authorities have also been notified, he said.
“The FBI can reach much further than any state agency can. They do have powers across the borders, and they have agents across the borders that can assist them,” 9th Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler said.
Edward Salas, 21, Demetrio Salas, 20, and Orlando Salas, 16, have been in custody since Sept. 16 and are awaiting separate jury trials scheduled to begin in October. If convicted, they face life in prison. An arrest warrant was issued for Torres the day after the shooting.
Although police still receive occasional tips and reports of sightings, Aguilar said none has proven legitimate.
Clovis law enforcement is hopeful that the involvement of federal agents will turn the investigation around.
“We are extremely confident that we will locate him. It’s just a matter of time,” Chandler said. “He can continue to avoid us for the time being, but he can’t avoid us forever.”
Chandler stated that the trials of the three Salas brothers will proceed regardless of the fugitive status of Torres.
FBI officials did not return calls seeking comment.