It’s mostly pain and anxiety that keep Drea Rose away from the Pasco block where her high school sweetheart was gunned down more than five months ago.
Anthony Guerrero grew up in the neighborhood around West Marie Street where a hail of bullets tore into a car Nov. 20 and ended his life.
The corner house where Guerrero, 20, and two others were shot in front of was once a gathering spot for neighborhood friends. It was a place where small children frequently played and the older kids spent summer nights.
Now, Rose says she can’t return to the former safe haven without being reminded of her heartbreak or overcome with anger from the realization that Guerrero’s killers are still on the loose.
“It’s not really gotten any easier because there hasn’t been closure with it,” said Rose, 19, as she sat facing a wall of pictures of her and Guerrero. “It’s an open wound.”
The homicide case is one of two recent fatal shootings, less than three months apart, that remain unsolved in Pasco.
Juan Melgoza, 42, left the Pasco home where he stayed for unknown reasons on Feb. 4 and went to Fiesta Foods. As he stood near the entrance of the grocery store, two suspects sneaked up from the parking lot and shot him several times.
It’s unclear if the entire shooting — which happened about 8:40 p.m. as customers shopped inside and others filled the parking lot — was captured on the store’s security cameras, police said. However, cameras recorded images of the suspects, who are described as being in their late teens to early 20s.
The suspects left the area quickly, possibly in a nearby getaway car, police said.
Melgoza took off without warning shortly before he was shot, said Davina Zimmerle, his girlfriend at the time. Zimmerle then got a call from him on a phone he apparently borrowed while at the store.
She says it was the last call he ever made.
“The minute I answered the phone and said, ‘Hello,’ is when he got shot,” Zimmerle said.
There have been 12 homicides in Pasco since 2013, including four police shootings, a shooting ruled justifiable and a murder-suicide, records show. The cases involving Guerrero, Melgoza and a Pasco woman struck by a car are the only ones considered unsolved during this period.
Police have released little information about the Guerrero or Melgoza cases in recent months other than to say they are active investigations. Pasco Capt. Ken Roske said detectives are working leads in the cases.
No warrants have been issued for suspects in either case, Roske said.
The Guerrero slaying happened during a gang dispute in Pasco that left two men, including Guerrero, and five others shot. Guerrero and two friends were reportedly ambushed by the suspects on a dark street.
No description of the suspects has been released. They appeared to be male.
Friends and family of Guerrero say he wasn’t connected to gangs. They said Guerrero’s association with the West Marie Street house may have led to the killing.
Guerrero was friends with DeShawn Anderson, who frequented the house and is awaiting trial on charges of first-degree murder and four counts of first-degree assault. Anderson, 19, is is accused of killing Lorenzo “Richie” Fernandez Jr., 22, and shooting three men during the reported gang dispute.
“(Guerrero) was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Julieta Guerrero, 24, about her little brother. “No one had problems with him like that.”
Zimmerle believes the shooting that killed her boyfriend was possibly over a debt he owed, she said. She has heard rumors about the murder and doesn’t know what to believe.
Melgoza had several brushes with the law over the years, including jail sentences for drug possession, assault and forgery, according to court records.
Although court records show their relationship was at times tumultuous, Zimmerle said she feels empty as she deals with the pain of losing the man she loved.
“The first two weeks I just locked myself in the room,” she said. “Whoever did this needs to be locked away.”
Rose, Zimmerle and Julieta Guerrero have been frustrated that the cases remain unsolved. Police have shared little about the investigation with the women and sometimes they get the feeling the cases have been forgotten, they said.
But police say detectives continue to work hard to try and bring both men’s killers to justice.
Roske said he understands the frustration over the limited amount of information police can share.
“We try as best we can,” he said. “Obviously there is some information we keep close to our chest. From an investigative standpoint, it’s necessary.”
Rose and Julieta Guerrero said they know deep down there is someone out there who has information about their loved one’s death. The pair said it’s even likely Guerrero knew the people who shot at the car.
However, people have been quiet about the shooting, and the women don’t have a theory about who might have killed Guerrero.
“I feel like someone knows what happened,” Julieta Guerrero said. “We don’t blame them for being scared. Who gets shot up like that?”
At first Rose was not interested in knowing who killed Guerrero because it would never bring him back, she said. But as the intense pain started to turn to anger in the months after the shooting, she said finding out who is responsible has become necessary to try and move on with her life.
Tears filled Rose’s eyes as she told the story of Guerrero and his family taking her in when she was a lost teen. They opened their home, gave her a car and made sure she stayed in school, she said.
Julieta Guerrero quietly wiped away her own tears as Rose told the story.
“I am scared I’m never going to be over this because it will just be a mystery the whole time,” Rose said.