Members of the MS-13 gang stabbed a 20-year-old man more than 80 times in a Silver Spring park last month, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Two teens—including one who was reportedly the victim’s best friend—were arrested this week and charged with the murder of Cristopher Alfredo Funes Guerra, from Silver Spring. Authorities believe the slaying occurred the night of Sept. 2 around Long Branch-Arliss Neighborhood Park.
Jesus Ponce Flores, 18, of Takoma Park, and David Lagunes Bolanos, 17, of Silver Spring, are both “validated members” of MS-13, Assistant State’s Attorney Teresa Casafranca said in the Montgomery County District Court Thursday.
“This is a gangland-style killing,” she said. “He was stabbed in excess of 80 times … and left to die.”
In court documents, police describe Funes Guerra’s death as comparable to other MS-13 killings, in which victims are “lured into a wooded area” and killed.
At about 8 p.m. Sept. 2, Funes Guerra left home, telling his mom he was going to meet a friend, according to court documents.
Two hours later, she tried to call him, but his phone was off, according to documents.
He didn’t come home that night, and his mom never heard from him again.
His mom told police he had gone to meet “Davie,” who police identified as Lagunes Bolanos. She described him as her son’s best friend.
Montgomery County police contacted Lagunes Bolanos on Sept. 4. He “hesitantly agreed to meet” police officers at a nearby 7-Eleven rather than at his home, according to documents.
He told the officers Funes Guerra “was not really his friend,” police wrote in charging documents.
Lagunes Bolanos then told the officers he was supposed to go to a party with Funes Guerra on Sept. 2 but they never met, according to the documents. He also reported that he spoke to the victim on Sept. 2 and 3—though police now believe Funes Guerra was dead by that time.
In his conversation with the patrol officers, Lagunes Bolanos changed his story about his interactions with Funes Guerra multiple times, the documents say. The officers also seized a knife Lagunes Bolanos was carrying.
A hiker found Funes Guerra’s body in a creek on Sept. 6, three days after his family reported him missing to police.
He was suffering from multiple stab wounds, and the medical examiner’s office ruled his death a homicide.
In charging documents, police describe meeting with two witnesses who “wish to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal.” The witnesses told them the homicide was committed by “multiple members of MS-13” and “provided details of the crime not released to the public,” according to documents.
The witnesses identified Lagunes Bolanos and Ponce Flores by photographs, according to the documents.
The witnesses said both of them had “bragged about assaulting and stabbing” Funes Guerra in conversations with them, the documents say.
Police found both suspects together at a Silver Spring 7-Eleven near the crime scene on Sept. 21 and interviewed them, according to the documents.
Another anonymous witness told police that Ponce Flores was involved in the killing and another attempted stabbing nearby, according to the documents.
On Tuesday, Ponce Flores tried to run away when police attempted to arrest him on Piney Branch Road, the documents say. He dropped a jacket and what appeared to be a revolver, but police chased him and apprehended him. They discovered that the “revolver” was a BB gun.
Police arrested Lagunes Bolanos on Wednesday, according to court records.
During a hearing on Thursday, Christopher Duffner, an assistant public defender, took issue with the police department’s reliance on anonymous witnesses and asked that both men be released on bail.
“The evidence is weak,” he said. “There are no real facts alleged.”
He said Ponce Flores is in 11th grade at Thomas Edison High School in Silver Spring, where his favorite subject is art. He financially supports a 5-year-old son he has in Virginia through his work remodeling apartments, Duffner said.
Lagunes Bolanos has lived in Silver Spring for two years, Duffner said, and does contract work painting and roofing with his uncle. He sends the money he makes back home.
Casafranca said Lagunes Bolanos admitted to police that he came to the country illegally. He has an immigration detainer issued against him and could be considered a flight risk, she said.
Lagunes Bolanos has not previously been convicted of crimes; Ponce Flores was on probation for another assault at the time of the murder, Sasafranca said.
Lagunes Bolanos will turn 18 on Tuesday. Considering that, Duffner asked that he be held at the Alfred D. Noyes Children’s Center, a juvenile detention facility in Rockville, but he is being charged as an adult.
Judge Margaret Schweitzer ordered both suspects to be held without bail, calling them a “threat and danger to the community.”
Schweitzer said Lagunes Bolanos could be a flight risk and said there was no basis to hold him at the Noyes center given the seriousness of the charges.
Ponce Flores is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 3. Lagunes Bolanos will have a hearing Nov. 17.
Both teens face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole for charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.