Man grabbed gun from brother, fatally shot 3 at Banning cemetery – Press Enterprise | #teacher | #children | #kids

William Arnold Armendariz III fired bullets into the heads of James Lara, Theresa Sanchez and Felicia McCafferty, ending a scuffle that began with William and Christopher Armendariz attacking Lara during a graveside service on Aug. 30, according to details in a court document.

The Armendarizes and an accomplice, Erica Lomas, fled the state and were arrested Sept. 4 in Illinois, the document adds.

The document, a sworn affidavit written by a Banning police detective to obtain an arrest warrant, provides the most details publicly available from authorities to date on the case.

Sanchez, 42, and McCafferty, 48, died Aug. 30. Lara, 53, died from his injuries on Sept. 10. All were Banning residents.

It’s unclear whether or how the victims and defendants knew each other, but all were attending a service at San Gorgonio Memorial Park. William and Christopher Armendariz are brothers, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said.

Aug. 30 marked what would have been the 24th birthday of Evangelina Angelica Ysiano, whom an obituary identified as Sanchez’s daughter. Ysiano in 2018 was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend and was buried at that Banning cemetery. Devonta Eugene Leonard was convicted of murder and sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.

Obituaries for Sanchez and McCafferty identified them as sisters.

Michelle Lara, in a GoFundMe page she established to raise money for “Jimbo” Lara’s services, identified herself as his niece. She wrote that Lara “was with his girlfriend and her family at the cemetery that terrible day.”

Witnesses told investigators that about 5:15 p.m. on Aug. 30, the Armendariz brothers began kicking and punching Lara, the court document said.

“Two women, who were also attending the celebration and later identified as Theresa Sanchez and Felicia McCafferty, attempted to intervene by physically trying to stop the assault and battery upon James Lara,” the document says. “When this occurred, Christopher Armendariz produced a handgun from his person and briefly pointed the weapon at Theresa before William Armendariz took the firearm from Christopher.”

Armendariz then shot all three in the head, according to the document.

The Armendariz brothers and Lomas fled the state after the shooting in a Honda van being driven by Melissa Fay Armendariz, the document says. She is the mother of the Armendariz brothers, the DA’s Office said.

On Sept. 4, Banning police investigators learned that a Drug Enforcement Administration agent attempting to intercept drugs in Shiloh, Illinois, stopped a rented Nissan Altima containing the Armendarizes and Lomas, who is William’s girlfriend. Agents recovered two firearms, high-capacity magazines, ammunition and $10,000 in cash, the document says. The trio was arrested.

Melissa Armendariz, 45, was arrested Sept. 4 as well.

William Armendariz, 23, and Christopher Armendariz, 21, have each been charged with three counts of murder. They are scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 6. Lomas, 23, was charged with accessory to a felony and has an arraignment on Jan. 22. Melissa Armendariz has pleaded not guilty to accessory to a felony.

A fifth person not mentioned in the arrest declaration, Pablo Rodriguez, has also been charged with accessory to a felony. A warrant has been issued for his arrest, Superior Court records show.

McCafferty, according to her obituary, was married for 33 years, worked as a medical transcriber for 27 years and was a parishioner at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church.

Sanchez was a native of Banning and worked as a teacher’s aide for three years at Renu Hope Foundation. She also attended St. Kateri Tekakwitha, her obituary said.

Lara worked for his brother’s landscaping firm and loved to drink a Bud Ice after a hard day’s work, his obituary said. He enjoyed cruising on his bike and dancing “anytime a good song came on.”

Lara liked the Lakers and Green Bay Packers and loved going to the casino. He would always say “I’m gonna win big.”


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