EARLIMART — The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday arrested a suspect in the attempted murder of three teenagers earlier this month.
On July 13, detectives from the Violent Crimes Investigations Unit and the South County Unit served two search warrants in the 1800 block of West Sierra in Earlimart, which resulted in the arrest of Robert Rivera, 20, according to officials.
Rivera was arrested in connection to an incident that occurred in Earlimart on July 1. Deputies from the Pixley substation responded to calls of shots fired at Church and Sutter, and one block west at State and Sutter.
Deputies arrived and found three gunshot wound victims. Two of the victims, ages 15 and 16, each had one gunshot wound to their lower bodies, and the third victim, 16, had multiple gunshot wounds to his upper and lower body. All of the victims were males from Earlimart.
The victim with multiple gunshot wounds was airlifted to an area hospital where he underwent surgeries and remains in stable condition. The other two victims were transported to another area hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. Both were treated and released.
During the investigation, detectives discovered that two of the victims were walking in the area of Church and Sutter when the suspects arrived in a vehicle and fired at the victims. As the suspects were leaving, they fired at the third victim at State and Sutter, officials said.
The crime appears to be gang-related since “there is a gang enhancement charge added,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Douglass.
“We are not identifying the source of the lead (that led to the arrest) at this time,” he added.
When detectives arrested Rivera, they found the vehicle that was used in the crime at the residence and took it in as evidence. Two marijuana plants were also located at the residence and seized, according to officials.
Rivera was booked into the Tulare County Main Jail on charges of attempted murder, accessory after the fact, participating in a gang crime, and the cultivation of marijuana.