Three people have been charged with killing two teens who were found dead the night before their high school graduation, and police said they believe the slayings were revenge for a robbery that one of the teens was rumored to have committed.
The three are charged in the deaths of 17-year-old Shadi Adi Najjar and 18-year-old Artem Ziberov, Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said at a news conference late Saturday.
Najjar and Ziberov were found shot to death late Monday in a blue Honda Civic in Montgomery Village, the night before they were supposed to graduate from Northwest High School. Manger said Najjar had been shot four times and Ziberov 10 times. Amid the shattered window glass police found numerous shell casings, including some Glaser .40-caliber shells.
“We believe there were 30 rounds fired,” he said.
The suspects were identified as Jose Canales-Yanez, 25, and brothers Roger Garcia, 19 and Edgar Garcia-Gaona, 24, were each charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
The trio of arrests came almost two weeks after 18-year-old Artem Ziberov and 17-year-old Shadi Najjar were found dead in Montgomery Village inside a parked, running blue Honda Civic on June 5, a day before they were set to graduate from Northwest High School in Germantown, Md.
Manger said investigators learned from friends of Najjar that he was rumored to have robbed Canales-Yanez’s girlfriend last December, and was killed in retaliation. He added that, “we’re unsure right now if there was a motive to kill Ziberov as well, or if he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
He said an informant identified the three suspects to investigators.
He also said that just before Najjar died, he texted someone saying he was going to sell a graduation ticket to Roger Garcia, who was identified as a Northwest High School student.
“We’re certainly working on the strong possibility that this was a ruse to get the two victims to that location,” Manger said.
He said a partial box of Glaser .40-caliber ammunition was found at Garcia-Gaona’s house. He also said the suspects took Najjar’s cellphone.
He said the investigation is ongoing, and said he hoped the release of the suspects’ names would spur others with knowledge of the case to come forward.
“We think there’s more information that folks out in the community have that can move us even further along with this case,” he said.