Sacramento prosecutors have added gang allegations to the charges against two suspects in the double-fatal New Year's Eve shooting in Old Sacramento.
In a brief court appearance Tuesday for Carlito Montoya and Charles Wesley Fowler-Scholz, Deputy District Attorney Anthony Ortiz identified both defendants as Norteño street gang members.
Under the state's gang sentencing laws, the allegations could give both defendants additional life terms in prison if the new charges are upheld.
Earlier this month, prosecutors also charged Montoya with the special-circumstance allegation of multiple murders that could bring him the death penalty if convicted.
Ortiz said in an interview there were no validated gang connections for any of the victims in the Dec. 31 shootings at the Sports Corner Cafe in which two people were killed and two more were injured.
"It could have been any victim in that bar that night," Ortiz said. "They weren't doing anything wrong, any of the victims. This was purely two gang members going into that bar with a gang mindset, and it resulted in murder."
Montoya, 22, is a member of what Ortiz identified as the "Murder Block Norteños" of Oakland. Fowler-Scholz, 34, is a Norteño with no subset identified, according to Ortiz.
In the DA's complaint, Montoya is named as the gunman in the shooting that killed Sports Corner Cafe security employee Daniel Ferrier, 36, an Iraq War veteran, and Gabriel Cordova, 35, a father of three children.
The shooting took place in the bar at the corner of Second and K streets less than an hour after thousands of people had finished watching a New Year's Eve fireworks show in Old Sacramento.
Sources said the shooting occurred after Fowler-Scholz's wife, Amber Scholz, reacted angrily when Cordova accidentally spilled beer on her sweat shirt.
A video camera in the bar captured her first confronting Cordova, then walking over to her husband and discussing it with him while pointing out Cordova. The video depicted Fowler-Scholz walking up to Cordova and smashing him over the head with a beer bottle, according to sources who have seen it.
When Ferrier moved to break up the fight, Montoya stepped up to him and shot him three times in the face, according to the sources who have seen the video.
Montoya then reached around Fowler-Scholz to fatally shoot Cordova, the sources said.
Montoya is charged with two counts of murder and an additional count of attempted murder in the shooting of Stephen Walton, 46, another security employee who was seriously wounded by the gunfire. Montoya, who is being held without bail, also is charged with assault with a deadly weapon in the shooting of Cordova's wife, who suffered a bullet wound to the foot.
Karol Martin Repkow, the defense attorney who is representing Montoya, disputed the gang allegation.
"I don't see any evidence that Mr. Montoya or anybody else in the bar that night is a gang member, let alone that this incident is in any way related to gangs," Repkow said in an emailed statement. "It appears that emotions and drunkenness led to an unplanned and unforeseen but terribly tragic result."
Fowler-Scholz is charged with assault with a deadly weapon for the alleged beer-bottle attack on Cordova. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Under California's "three-strikes" statute, the initial complaint filed by the District Attorney's Office said Fowler-Scholz had two prior robbery convictions on his record.
On Tuesday, Ortiz told Sacramento Superior Court Judge John P. Winn that Fowler-Scholz actually has 11 robbery and one attempted robbery convictions.
All of the prior convictions on Fowler-Scholz were obtained in the same 1996 trial for offenses that he committed when he was 17 years old, Ortiz said outside court.
Fowler-Scholz was tried as an adult and sentenced to six years in state prison, according to online court records. Fowler-Scholz's attorney, Dan Nicholson, said he had no information from the DA's office on his client's alleged gang ties.
Amber Scholz also appeared at Tuesday's arraignment. She is charged with aiding and abetting her husband's assault. She also is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.