Reputed 19-year-old gang member accused of aiding another gang member escape capture after the man allegedly shot dead a Cathedral City resident last year pleaded not guilty today to aiding and abetting after the fact and other offenses.
Cathedral City’s Joel Sanchez was arrested last Tuesday in Tijuana, Mexico, and is now being held at Blythe Prison instead of $ 500,000.
Sanchez is one of four men believed to be members of the same criminal street gang arrested in connection with two shootings reported within hours of each other in Cathedral City, including one in March 23, 2020, who left Ruben Hernandez, 43, dead.
Hernandez’s 11-year-old daughter was also injured in the attack, but survived, according to the Cathedral City Police Department.
Sanchez was arraigned at the Banning Justice Center before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Alfonso Fernandez, who scheduled a May 5 crime resolution conference at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.
In addition to being an accomplice in murder, Sanchez faces felony and misdemeanor charges related to guns and drugs.
Sanchez is suspected of helping Gabriel Hernandez, 21, of Indio – one of two men charged with murder in the murder of Ruben Hernandez – avoided capture by helping him hide in Mexico, court documents show.
Gabriel Hernandez remains on fire.
The other suspect – Jose Sanchez-Casas, 24 – who police say is Sanchez’s brother – has previously pleaded not guilty in the case. Ethan Bravo, 20, of Cathedral City also pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other offenses in the case.
Sanchez-Casas and Bravo are still in custody and were due to return to court on May 13 for a crime settlement conference.
According to Cathedral City Police, Gabriel Hernandez approached the front door of a house in the 29000 block of Avenida La Vista at around 6:40 p.m.
On March 23, he started shooting as Ruben Hernandez stood in the doorway and his daughter stood nearby. Hernandez died at the scene and paramedics took his injured daughter to hospital.
Ruben Hernandez was
"not involved in criminal activity," according to police.
A motive in the shooting has not been provided. A second shooting was reported in the early morning hours of March 24 in the 33300 block of Wishing Well Trail, police said.
Several shots were fired at a home with people inside about 2 a.m., but nobody was injured.
The investigation into that shooting yielded “witnesses and physical evidence” relating to the first shooting, which took place less than three kilometers away, police said.
Anyone with information relating to Gabriel Hernandez’s whereabouts has been urged to call the Cathedral City Police Department at 760-770-0300.