Special Reports

Survivor identifies second suspect

The lone survivor of a massacre at a Pasco garage identified Friday

the second man police are seeking in connection with the five killings. An arrest warrant was issued for Pedro Mendez, who was charged with five counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Mendez, whose age was put between 22 and 25, is the brother of Vicente Mendez Ruiz, who was charged in the killings earlier this week, police capt. Doug Chambers said.

Police did not know where either suspect is.

Mendez was identified in a police mug shot by Jesse Rocio after police got an anonymous telephone tip that named Mendez, Chambers said.

Meanwhile, Rocio said in an interview that the gunmen lined the victims against a wall inside Medina's Body Shop before killing them Tuesday night.

Rocio, 20, said neither be nor anyone else in the garage at 1101 E. A St. took the gunmen seriously until Ruiz, holding a pistol in each band, said in Spanish "This is it, it's over" and began shooting.

"I thought they were playing around," Rocio recalled.

One victim, Juan Antonio Lopez Garcia, about 20, never stopped reading the book of Spanish cowboy stories as he sat on a tire rim against the wall, he said.

Rocio said he did not know why the gunmen wanted he and the others dead. He speculated that the two thought he, garage owner Clifford Medina, and Misael Barajas gave information to federal agents that lead to drug-related arrests of seven people earlier in the day.

"Maybe they thought we talked but they are wrong," Rocio said.

Barajas, 21, was one of those shot to death at the garage. Medina was not at the garage during the shooting.

Rocio said he, Medina, and Barajas had been among about 50 people who gathered outside a Pasco apartment Tuesday night to watch agents make arrests in the drug bust. The arrests began around 5 p.m.

"I was there making jokes," Rocio said. "I was saying things like "those guys (being arrested) think they are tough."

Rocio said he and Barajas returned to the garage where Rocio resumed sanding a 1969 Mercury Cougar.

The following is Rocio's account of subsequent events surrounding the 7 p.m. garage massacre:

Eight people were in the garage. Ruiz and Mendez walked in unarmed and began talking quietly for a few minutes with two mechanics, whose names Rocio did not know.

The mechanics left the garage with Ruiz and Mendez.

About 5 or 10 minutes later, Ruiz Mendez re-entered the garage without the mechanics. Ruiz carried two pistols. Mendez carried a rifle.

One of the assailants went into the car painting area where Barajas and Eliceo Lamas, 20, were sweeping the floor. The gunman brought them into the main garage where the other four victims were around the car.

The gunmen, without speaking, motioned the victims to line up against a wall inside the garage.

Ruiz directed Rocio to close a shop door. Rocio obliged, then returned to resume sanding his car.

Ruiz said "This is it, it's over" and shots were fired.

Rocio scrambled beneath the car as a bullet grazed his right side.

"It was over in less than a minute," Rocio recalled. "The thing happened real fast.

"I don't know why they did it," he added.

The gunmen did not shoot any of the victims as they lay bleeding on the garage floor, Rocio said. The assailants immediately left the garage with their guns and drove away in a Mazda RX7. Rocio said he crawled from beneath the car as he heard he engine of the getaway car start.

"I thought about going after those guys," be said. "But I had no chance."

He saw the getaway car heading toward downtown Pasco as he got into a 1981 Ford Escort and drove to Pasco police headquarters.

Chambers declined to comment on Rocio's account.

Rocio said he had known all the shooting victims for about a year and that he was unaware of any previous physical confrontations between them and the gunmen. He said he previously had seen Ruiz and Mendez around Pasco.

Rocio, who was released by police Thursday said be will stay at various undisclosed places around Pasco for safety reasons. But he said he does not fear the shooting suspects will return and try to harm him.

Rocio, a mechanic who has lived in Pasco for about 2 1/2 years, worked at the garage for about six months, said his attorney, David Corkrum.

Mendez, the suspect identified Friday, was sentenced to 21 months in state prison is September 1983 for second-degree theft, eluding police, and twice violating earlier probation by returning to the Untied States after being deported to Mexico, court records show. It could not be immediately determined how much time he served.

The brothers have different last names because Mendez uses their father's last name and Ruiz uses their mother's maiden name, Chambers said.

Mendez' last known address was an apartment at 1530 N. Ninth Ave. in Pasco that was rented by Ruiz and another brother, Ramundo Ruiz, Chambers said.

"My own personal feeling is that they are traveling together," Chambers said, adding that U.S. officials have been advised to be on the lookout for the men near the Mexico border.

'"Ramundo could be traveling with them,: Chambers added. "Or they might have split up, figuring we are looking for them. They probably watch old B movies just like we do."

The 5-foot-5, 140-pound Mendez has 15 aliases and tattoos on both arms and chest, police said.

Autopsies on the five Hispanic shooting victims were completed Friday but Prosecuting Attorney Dennis DeFelice said it would be Monday before results are released. The autopsies are expected to show how many times each man was shot.