Murder suspect sought after Calif. cops kill 2 armed cohorts

A manhunt is still underway for a third suspect in a homicide

By Evan Sernoffsky
San Francisco Chronicle

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Police were on the hunt for a third murder suspect Tuesday after cops shot and killed two other suspects during violent run-ins over a 24-hour period in San Jose.

The dead suspects, along with the third, unidentified man, are suspected of murdering 38-year-Christopher Maxell Wrenn at an office complex on Lundy Avenue on Thursday, San Jose police Sgt. Enrique Garcia said late Monday.

The suspects, identified as Richard Jacquez, 40, and Matthew Castillo, 29, both of San Jose, were armed with a handgun, a Tec-9-style assault rifle and a third undisclosed weapon when they allegedly "terrorized" Wrenn after a "horrific encounter" inside the complex in the city's Berryessa neighborhood, Garcia said.

"I can't imagine what that victim was going through as they were terrorizing him before they killed him," he said.

The third suspect, who is still on the loose, was described as a man with a heavy build standing between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall.

It was not clear why the men targeted Wrenn. On Tuesday, KTVU-TV obtained still shots from security video that show Wrenn moments before he is killed with his hands up and the gunmen pointing their weapons at him.

The killings by police mark the seventh and eighth officer-involved shootings this year in San Jose — five of them deadly — and the second and third times police fired their guns at suspects in the past week.

In 2014, there were five officer-involved shootings in San Jose, two of which were deadly.

The most recent episode unfolded around 7 p.m. Monday when tactical police confronted Jacquez in Wrenn's killing near Kirkhaven Court and Stoneyhaven Way.

Officers began chasing the man, who was in a car with an unidentified woman.

Jacquez crashed the car and took off running , Garcia said. Earlier reports that he had reached for his waistband before police fired on him were recanted, with Garcia instead saying the officer shot "based on public safety concerns" as Jacquez reached for the door of an unknown residence.

Police did not find a weapon at the scene. Authorities said Jacquez was in a car with a woman he had threatened to kill because she had information about the slaying of Wrenn.

The night before the encounter, around 10:10 p.m., police were tracking Castillo in Wrenn's killing at a strip mall on the 3100 block of Senter Road.

Castillo allegedly reached for a handgun, prompting two officers to open fire, Garcia said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The number of police shootings in San Jose has escalated since the death of Officer Michael Johnson, a 14-year veteran of the San Jose Police Department who was gunned down in March by a 57-year-old man firing a powerful AR-15 rifle. The gunman, Scott Dunham, shot Johnson from an enclosed second-story balcony of a Senter Road apartment building.

Dunham died in a shootout with police that followed Johnson's slaying.

But Steve Clark, a former Santa Clara County prosecutor who is now a criminal defense attorney, said cases where police encounter murder suspects can be risky for everyone involved.

"They're obviously people that are looking at life sentences or possibly a death sentence," Clark said of the suspects. "That makes them very dangerous, and police in those situations have to be very careful."

In general Clark said police shootings seem to be a more frequent occurrence and officers need proper equipment and training in deadly and non-deadly force.

He said each case, though, has to be judged on its own merit and that "it isn't just citizens who are killed, but officers are killed. That makes these situations very tense, very raw."

Police in San Jose fired at suspects on two other occasions in the past week that were unconnected to Wrenn's killing.

A stabbing suspect armed with a meat cleaver was shot to death by officers, and another man shot himself to death with a shotgun after officers opened fire on him.

Copyright 2015 the San Francisco Chronicle

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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