On June 5, two seniors at Germantown’s Northwest High School were killed in a hail of bullets the night before they were set to graduate. On June 17, the Montgomery County Police Department announced the arrests of three suspects.
Shadi Adi Najjar, 17, and Artem S. Ziberov, 18, died when assailants shot 30 bullets into the blue Honda Civic they sat in on the 8200 block of Gallery Court in Montgomery Village.
Twelve days later, police arrested Edgar Garcia-Gaona, 24, of Gaithersburg, Roger Garcia, 19, of Germantown, and Jose Ovilson Canales-Yanez, 25, of Gaithersburg. They were charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
“Although detectives have made these three arrests, this by no means should be interpreted that the investigation has concluded,” said Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger. “These most recent developments are the result of the community taking an active role in this investigation. It is believed that, considering the progress made … there are additional sources of information who have yet to come forward.”
Spokespeople from the Montgomery County Police Department referred inquiries on the case to the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for that office, declined to comment for this story, noting that “we are limited as to what we can say pre-trial.”
Although the case is still pending, according to MCPD statements, investigators learned that Najjar had committed a drug-related robbery in December or January, purportedly stealing drugs from a female during a drug transaction. Furthermore, not long before his death, Najjar told a friend he was planning to sell a graduation ticket to Garcia. Garcia’s brother, Edgar Garcia-Gaona, was shot in February during a botched drug deal in Montgomery Village. Garcia-Gaona was ultimately determined to be the boyfriend of Kara Yanez, the purported victim of the robbery committed by Najjar.
The developing motive for the shooting, police stated, was that it came in retaliation for Najjar’s robbery of Kara Yanez. It is unknown whether there was any motive for Ziberov’s murder, or if his death was incidental to the killing of Najjar.
All three suspects are being held without bond and could be facing multiple life sentences, according to a court hearing last week.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the MCPD Major Crimes Division at 240.773.5070. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County, which is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for any information that leads to additional arrests and indictments. Tipsters can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1.866.411.TIPS (8477).