Toppenish murder suspects arrested - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Toppenish murder suspects arrested

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YAKIMA--The prime suspect in last week's gang murder in Toppenish, behind bars in the Yakima County Jail, and it's not who police expected.

Toppenish police say they plan to charge 19-year-old Rudy Madrigal of Toppenish with first-degree murder for the shooting death of Ladislado Avila.

Madrigal was taken into custody at a Yakima home on the 1000 block of South 7th Street by Yakima Police and the Yakima County Violent Crimes Task Force around 7:30 a.m. Saturday, along with 20-year-old Justin Cavasos, 20-year-old Fabian Arredondo, and two other individuals.

Sgt. Lloyd George of the Yakima Police Department told KNDO officers began their stakeout of the home around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, but didn't go in to make arrests for several hours.

"There was a decision made when people started arriving at the house to go ahead and approach the house and lock it down," George said.  "Then we had the opportunity to get a search warrant for the residence to look for the suspects."

Sgt. Jake Church of the Toppenish Police Department told KNDO Rudy Madrigal's name had come up in the investigation  but he was not believed to be a main suspect until his arrest Saturday morning.

22-year-old Ladislado Avila was shot once in the head while driving on the 500 block of Washington Avenue in Toppenish in the early hours of December 5.  He died two days later from his injuries.

Police recovered the vehicle believed used in the drive-by:  a 1994 teal Honda Accord.  Church said a search warrant on the car was being processed.  As of Saturday evening, police had not found the gun used in the shooting.

Charges have not yet been filed against any of the suspects, but Church believes Arredondo will face a murder-related charge.  Cavasos likely will be charged for illegally possessing a firearm.

Toppenish police are still looking for 19-year-old David Sandoval as a person of interest.

Police say Madrigal, Arredondo, Cavasos, Sandoval and the victim, Avila, all have gang ties.  Lt. Nolan Wentz of the Yakima Police Department said the house on South 7th Street is a known gang house.

A SWAT team was called in this morning, but the suspects surrendered before it arrived on scene.