Police use tear gas to subdue suspect

MANASSAS — County police fired tear gas into an apartment in Manassas on Tuesday night before arresting a 19-year-old city man whom they believe was involved in a robbery and shooting in a field behind Sinclair Elementary school earlier this month.

Suspected gang member Pedro Balmore Rivas, also known as “Demo,” faces charges that he robbed a 21-year-old man and then fired a handgun into the ground when bystanders tried to stop him on March 3, said Detective Dennis Mangan, a police spokesman.

Rivas is the second suspect arrested in this incident. More than two weeks ago, police arrested Reyes Avila-Villalta, a 22-year-old from the same apartment complex, and charged him with armed robbery, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and possession of a weapon on school property.

Rivas was charged with attempted malicious wounding, possession and discharge of a firearm on school property and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

First Sgt. Richard A. Cantarella, the department’s violent crimes unit supervisor, would not comment on who actually pulled the trigger. The men “acted in concert,” he said.

Around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, a detective received information leading police to Rivas, whom police said is connected to the Manassas-based gang, “MS 13,” at the apartment complex, police said.

Police learned that Rivas was with two other males inside apartment No. 11 and set up a perimeter around the area. A SWAT team was called after the men turned off the lights and television in the apartment and did not respond to police attempts to communicate.

Surrounding apartments were evacuated before police fired the tear gas that forced the men outside in a matter of minutes, Mangan said.

On the afternoon of March 3, Rivas, Avila-Villalta and two other men reportedly got out of a 1995 Nissan Maxima and approached the victim, who was watching a soccer game on the field behind the school. One of the men drew a revolver-style handgun and demanded jewelry and money, Mangan said.

Other witnesses then began telling the robbers to give the victim his property back and leave him alone, Mangan said. At this point, the shot was fired, and the suspects ran away.

Using information provided by Avila-Villalta’s girlfriend, police arrested him later that day.

Staff writer Adam H. Beasley can be reached at (703) 878-8065.

Similar Posts