3 Men Arrested in Slaying of Montgomery County Students Held Without Bond

Police said their investigation is not over and more people could be involved

A judge denied bond for three people charged with killing two Maryland teens the night before their high school graduation, and police said they believe the slayings were revenge for a robbery one of the teens was rumored to have committed.

Jose Canales-Yanez, 24, Roger Garcia, 19, and Edgar Garcia-Gaona, 23, are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the deaths of Shadi Adi Najjar, 17, and Artem Ziberov, 18, Montgomery County police Chief J. Thomas Manger said at a news conference Saturday. Garcia and Garcia-Gaona are brothers.

Witnesses told police Najjar sold and used marijuana, according to court documents, and he was rumored to have stolen drugs from the girlfriend of one of the suspects last year.

Outside the courthouse Monday, Najjar’s mother denied her son was a thief or a drug dealer.

“My son is innocent,” Tina Najjar said. “My son did not steal ever in his life, and he doesn’t believe in that.”

Najjar and Ziberov were found shot to death June 5 in a blue Honda Civic in Montgomery Village, the night before they were supposed to graduate from Northwest High School.

The night of his death, Najjar sent a text message to his girlfriend saying he was going to sell a graduation ticket to a man named Roger Garcia, police said.

"We're certainly working on the strong possibility that this was a ruse to get the two victims to that location," Manger said.

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.

Manger said investigators learned that Najjar was rumored to have committed a robbery in late 2016. They linked the rumor to a report filed by Canales-Yanez's then-girlfriend, who told police on Dec. 14 the passenger in a blue Honda Civic had grabbed her iPad and dragged her about 50 feet with the car. He said an informant told investigators Najjar was killed in revenge for that robbery.

He said an informant identified the three suspects to investigators.

A partial box of Glaser .40-caliber ammunition was found at Garcia-Gaona's house, Manger said. The suspects also took Najjar's cellphone.

When police moved in to arrest the suspects over the weekend, they found two in a car with their bags packed, heading for another state, police said.

The investigation is ongoing and Manger hopes 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.

“I will be coming here every court to make sure those people will go and get justice,” Najjar’s father said outside the courthouse Monday, holding a large picture of his son. “That’s what I’m here for. And I will be here every day until those rotting in hell.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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