On June 21, 2008, a shooting took place at a residence in the area of Poplar Ave. and Madison Ave. in the city of Montebello. During this time, a graduation party was underway in the backyard and was attended by numerous family members of the graduate. Aside from family members, several South Side Montebello street gang members were present.
At approximately 11:00 pm, an altercation took place in which several South Side Montebello gang members had a fight with rival members of a tagging crew who were walking by the party. The tagging crew is associated with the Primera Flats street gang based out of Boyle Heights. Following the fight, several South Side Montebello gang members were kicked out of the party. Approximately 30 minutes after the fight, the tagging crew returned and began asking for a South Side Montebello gang member they believed wasstill at the party. After confronting several partygoers, Joe Dorantes pulled a handgun and fired at them.
During the shooting, four people were struck by gunfire. Two of the people were Albert Garcia (12 yrs. old) and his father Juan Garcia (44 yrs. old). The father and son were driven to Beverly Hospital where they both succumbed to their wounds. The other two shooting victims survived. None of the people who were shot were affiliated with street gangs. Following the shooting, Dorantes ran south on Poplar Ave. and was confronted by a South Side Montebello gang member. Dorantes and the gang member exchanged gunfire but neither was hit. Dorantes fled the scene on foot.
After the shooting, the investigation did not quickly reveal the evidence needed to prosecute the suspects. Through a joint effort between Montebello PD Detectives, the ATF and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, valuable evidence was discovered. On December 6th, 2012, Joe Dorantes was arrested and charged with the murders of Albert and Juan Garcia. The trial however resulted in a hung jury.
Dorantes was additionally charged with the attempted murder of the two partygoers and a rival gang member. In September, 2017, Dorantes was found guilty on all three charges. On April 10th, 2018, Dorantes was sentenced to 52 years in state prison for three counts of attempted murder (27 years) with a special allegation for using a firearm (25 years). The District Attorney’s Office is considering re-trying Dorantes for the murders.
Dorantes, as well as four of his family members were charged with jury tampering as a result of this case. The family members have all been convicted and sentenced. Dorantes jury tampering case is still waiting to go to trial.