Puerto Rican gets life sentence for mass shooting

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Tuesday October 29, 2013, CMC – The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) says a Puerto Rican man has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the murder of eight people and an unborn child during a mass shooting at a nightclub in Puerto Rico in 2009.

David Oquendo-Rivas, 29, who was sentenced on Thursday, was convicted of 28 counts of committing violent crimes “in aid of racketeering activity and nine counts of using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.”

The offenses that occurred on October 17, 2009, became known as the “La Tómbola Massacre.” 

His co-defendant Alexis Candelario-Santana was sentenced to life in prison in August.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Oquendo-Rivas was recruited by Candelario-Santana in 2009 to assist in “reinstituting control over his drug trafficking organization, which operated principally in Sabana Seca, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.”

The organization “purchased drugs in bulk, processed and packaged the drugs, and sold them at Sabana Seca through numerous sellers, runners and enforcers under Candelario-Santana’s control.

On October 17, 2009, the DOJ said the new leader of Candelario-Santana’s drug trafficking organization, who had displaced Candelario-Santana, “held the grand opening of a nightclub he had rented and refurbished called La Tómbola, located in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, complete with a popular live band and a festive Paso Fino horse parade, known as a ‘cabalgata’”. 

It’s reported that shortly after midnight, Oquendo-Rivas, Candelario-Santana and others – “all of whom were heavily armed” – drove to La Tómbola where they opened fire indiscriminately on all the patrons located outside, many of whom were women, children and elderly people. 

In all, eight people and an eight-month unborn child were killed and 19 other victims were shot and injured, the DOJ said.

The evidence introduced at trial demonstrated that 335 expended shell-casings were recovered from the La Tómbola crime scene. 

Oquendo-Rivas and another individual were discovered several days following the massacre with three pistols, one of which was scientifically matched to the La Tómbola massacre. They were subsequently held by the police. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)