MODESTO — A man testified Wednesday that he saw one of two murder defendants firing a gun from a car as two teenagers were struck by gunfire while standing outside a north Modesto apartment complex last year.
Rolando Luna, 15, and Andrew Ensey, 19, were killed in the drive-by shooting, which occurred about 9:15 p.m. Feb. 10, 2012, in the 2400 block of Vera Cruz Drive near Floyd Avenue and about a block east of the Coffee Plaza shopping center.
Robbie Blackwell, 21, of Modesto and Nicholas Spangler, 27, of Ceres, are accused of murder in connection with the deaths of Luna and Ensey. Their preliminary hearing began Tuesday and was expected to continue today. They remain in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail.
Arthur Montano was standing near the victims when shots rang out. He testified that he "bear-crawled" to a tree, where he took cover. He said the blast from the barrel illuminated the vehicle and he saw Blackwell firing the gun from the car's back seat.
Montano said their first encounter with Blackwell that night had happened about 45 minutes earlier in front of the cigarette store at the nearby shopping center. He testified that Blackwell confronted him, asking if he were the one who assaulted him the day before.
Blackwell confronted others who routinely hung around outside the store. Luna then arrived at the store, and Blackwell pointed him out as the person who assaulted him, Montano testified.
Luna and Blackwell looked like they were going to fight, Montano said on the witness stand, but Montano and his brother pushed Blackwell back to calm the situation. He said his brother punched Blackwell as the defendant was trying to get into his father's pickup.
Montano testified that Blackwell, as he left, told the crowd in front of the store, "I bet you b------ ain't going to be in front of the store tomorrow, or the day after that. I'm coming back. I'm coming back."
The group of males in front of the store, including Luna and Ensey, walked to the apartment complex on Vera Cruz Drive. Some of them lived there, and Montano said they discussed what happened at the store and decided to be wary of suspicious vehicles driving by.
He later spotted a white car with shiny rims, which appeared too nice to have people inside with bad intentions, Montano said.
After the car made a few passes in front of the apartment complex, Montano said he told his brother, "Something don't seem right about this car." The vehicle then slowed and shots were fired.
Police found the victims injured in the carport. Luna died from gunshot wounds in his head and chest, and Ensey died from a gunshot wound in his back.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.