City rocked by double murder
Brother and sister shot in their home; MySpace page suggests gangland past
Murder victim Omar Aquino left behind pictures on MySpace which indicate that a lifestyle he led in East Palo Alto may have followed him to Mountain View.
The slayings of Aquino, 24, and his sister, Teresa Sanchez, 27, have shocked neighbors on the 1900 block of Plymouth Avenue, who say the pair was quiet and seemed responsible. Teresa leaves behind an 8-year-old son who was in the house at the time of the early morning murders and remained asleep until officers arrived, police said. He is now in the care of Teresa's family members.
On MySpace, Aquino is pictured with numerous tattoos: "650" tattooed in large letters across his left arm and "EPA," for East Palo Alto, tattooed on his right arm. Another tattoo reads "EPA Mob." His black Ford Mustang is pictured with a window shattered, apparently by a gunshot, with a caption reading "This is how hot it gets in EPA." There are also several plain photos of smiling family members.
Aquino's page shows more than 146 "friends," and many of his "top 20" friends live in East Palo Alto. (His sister is listed as his No. 1 friend.) Neighbors on Plymouth Street said he had lived in Mountain View for two years.
"It's really a common phenomenon," said Detective Tracy Turner of the East Palo Police Department. "A lot of people leave here but there is this street cred — they still have tattoos and affiliate with EPA. He could have moved out of EPA and wasn't dealing with it anymore."
In Mountain View, police are appealing to the public for help in solving the crime, which happened in the early morning on Saturday. Police believe that several suspects had entered the home that morning and an argument ensued. They say it's likely that the suspects knew one or both of the victims.
Police also think a call for help was made from the house an hour before the shootings happened. At 3:54 a.m., a 911 call was made from Sanchez's cell phone reporting a break-in — however, the California Highway Patrol dispatchers receiving the call heard it as "Clemon Street" in Mountain View, which does not exist.
The call was disconnected before it could be transferred to Mountain View dispatchers. Though a frantic effort was made, police were not able to trace the call in time.
"In Mountain View, 911 calls — 99 percent of the time — come into our dispatch center," said police spokesperson Liz Wylie. "Because this house is basically on top of [Highway] 101 it got lumped in with CHP calls" and was routed to Vallejo.
Shots were heard by neighbors an hour after the 911 call, at 4:53 a.m.
Police have not named suspects or disclosed a motive. Court records show that Sanchez had sued the boy's father for child support, but Wylie said the father is not a suspect.
According to a Mountain View Police Department press release, "a large dark skinned male suspect was seen leaving the home and fled in a dark colored sedan."
Wylie said Aquino was not known to be an active gang member in Mountain View. He is not a registered gang member in San Mateo or Santa Clara counties.
"We have had no experience with him in a gang capacity," Wylie said. "They're looking into the gang angle, but it's one of many angles."
According to Turner, "We have limited contact with him while in East Palo Alto," but he added that "he was associated with known gang members in East Palo Alto."
Turner addressed suspicions that Aquino was involved in the drug trade, saying that "we never caught him selling drugs here in EPA."
In interviews with the Voice, neighbors said the siblings were quiet, responsible people who hailed from Oaxaca, Mexico. They lived in a small pink house alone with the boy.
Aquino's work truck and Mustang were still parked outside on Monday. The truck's driver's side window was shattered, and was eventually towed away that day for further investigation, Wylie said.
"He was a cool guy, nice guy, very independent," said one neighbor who wished to remain unnamed. He said Aquino worked for a company with his father that cleans offices in preparation for new occupants.
"It seemed he was responsible," the neighbor said. "He didn't look like he had any trouble. He was a calm person — never, ever any disputes. They would come home and by a certain time lights were off, and everyone was asleep."
"Someone killed them with no remorse," he said. "I am pretty sure the little boy got lucky."
Neighbor Ebaristo Ibarra, 62, said he thought Sanchez seemed like a good, devoted mother.
"It's sad," said neighbor Brent Wittler. "Now the boy is motherless. He might be scarred for life."
The killings are the fourth and fifth in Mountain View so far this year. There were five murders in the entire year of 1995, which was the most ever in a single year. In all of 2006 and 2007 there was only one murder in the city.
"We want community members to understand these are not random acts of violence — they are highly targeted and involve nefarious types of activities — all wildly different in motive," Wylie said. "I think our citizens are generally good people."
Those with information about the murders are urged to call the Mountain View Police Department's anonymous tip line at (650) 903-6344.
Staff writer Casey Weiss contributed to this report.