LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) – A third suspect has been arrested and is facing the death penalty in connection to the triple homicide investigation in Lebanon after two young children and a 19-year-old were fatally shot on May 30.
According to the Lebanon County District Attorney’s office, Ivan Claudio Rosero has been charged with multiple counts of homicide, conspiracy, and firearm offenses for the North Fifth Street shooting.
The district attorney’s office says they have filed a Notice of Aggravating Circumstances against Rosero to seek the death penalty.
The same notice was filed against Alex Torres-Santos, who was previously arrested and charged with homicide in the case. The district attorney’s office notes that a death penalty case can not be pursued against 16-year-old suspect James Fernandez-Reyes due to his age.
Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf cited the age of the two children as well as the area they were shot as reasons behind seeking the death penalty.
“It’s Lebanon city, it’s a highly populated residential area,” she said.
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro has said he will not sign any death penalty warrants during his administration, but Graf said she will not change how she does her job based on how someone else does theirs.
“They didn’t look into the eyes of that mother and have to explain, ‘Your 8-year-old and your 9-year-old are dead. They’re not coming back.’ I did,” she said. “At some point, enough is enough, and when I looked at this and when you stare at the body of a dead child, enough is enough. So if this doesn’t send a message, if this does not show we are taking this seriously, that gun violence is taken seriously in this community, I don’t know what else will.”
The district attorney’s office says investigators linked a white vehicle spotted in the area of the homicide to the residence of Rosero’s girlfriend, Tiffany Koziara. Following a search warrant executed by the Lebanon SWAT team, the district attorney’s office alleges Koziara lent Rosero the vehicle prior to the homicide and that he fled with the car.
U.S. Marshalls located Rosero in Philadelphia on June 6 and allegedly found him in possession of keys to a white BMW.
“There was severe concern that he would flee not only from Pennsylvania but potentially outside of the country,” Graf said. “There was no sleep, there was no rest, it was ‘We are going to find this 3rd person and we are going to get justice for these children.'”
The district attorney’s office says Rosero “gave a confession as to his involvement – he
drove himself and the other shooters to and from the murders in the white BMW. Rosero admitted he possessed a gun and fired multiple rounds during the homicide.”
Koziara, 34, also faces charges for Hindering the Apprehension of a Fugitive for allegedly giving investigators false information on Rosero’s whereabouts and booking a hotel room for the two over the weekend.
“The tragic killing of two innocent children and a young man occurred just over a week ago
today. Since called to the scene, Lebanon City Detectives, the Lebanon County Detective Bureau, and the DA’s Office has not stopped its quest to locate and arrest all three shooters. When children are killed, when a community is yet again endangered due to senseless gun violence, justice demands every ounce of effort possible. I cannot thank the Lebanon City Police Department and our County Detectives enough for their work in this case. To have three shooters identified and in custody all within a week is a true testament to the caliber of men each of our Detectives is. We are grateful to the State Police and Marshalls for their assistance in locating and arresting Rosero – through their efforts our community is safer. Our work in this case has just begun. We shift from arrest to trial preparation. I promise my Office and the police will do everything in its power to hold the killers accountable,” said DA Graf.
Torres-Santos and Fernandez-Reyes have been charged with criminal homicide, conspiracy to commit criminal homicide, aggravated assault, and carrying a firearm without a license. Torres-Santos was also charged with possessing cocaine.
Fernandez-Reyes was supposed to appear in court June 8, Torres-Santos the following week, but the DA said those hearings will likely be pushed back to make sure both have lawyers. The public defender’s office will not be representing Fernandez-Reyes, and Torres-Santos — as well as Claudio-Rosero — will need death penalty qualified defense attorneys.
The police department, in conjunction with the Lebanon County Coroner’s Office and District Attorney’s office, identified the victims as 8-year-old Jesus Perez-Salome, 9-year-old Sebastian Perez-Salome, and 19-year-old Joshua Lugo-Perez. Lugo-Perez was not related to the eight and nine-year-old victims but lived in the same home.
A neighbor was also injured after being struck by a stray bullet. Graf said he is recovering in the hospital, is able to speak and will hopefully return home soon.
DA Graf says Torres-Santos was on house arrest for several separate firearm and drug charges and was wearing an ankle monitor at the time of the shooting, citing GPS records from the device. Police also observed video in the area showing a white vehicle and three people fleeing from it.
The DA’s office also claims that Torres-Santos’ criminal record shows that he is currently out on bail for two separate incidents that both involve “dangerous behavior with firearms” as well as possession of crack cocaine with intent to deliver.
The DA’s office says Torres-Santos’ bail for his previous charges was originally set at $100,000 but was later lowered by a judge to $50,000. Court records also allege Torres-Santos was a suspect in a January 17 shooting and a February 7 shooting involving the same victim that also identified a juvenile who allegedly accompanied Torres-Santos.