Charlie Hola and Tevita Kaihea were formally charged with murder Thursday in the Sept. 3 shooting of 25-year-old Roman Gonzalez at Sacramento City College – a deadly act prosecutors allege was the last in a spree that included an armed robbery and a shooting that seriously wounded another man just hours before the campus parking lot melee.
Hola and Kaihea, both 19, appeared together behind bars in a courtroom’s holding cell before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gary Ransom to hear the new murder allegation, as well as an attempted murder allegation in the shooting of a man on Cottonfield Way in south Sacramento County less than two hours before the fatal brawl. The charges also include an enhancement alleging the pair carried out the killing as members of the local Tongan Crips street gang.
Hola and Kaihea remain held without bail at Sacramento County Main Jail. They are slated to return to court Jan. 6.
Kaihea fired the shot that killed Gonzalez, prosecuting Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Hightower alleged in a five-page complaint. A round from Hola’s gun also struck Gonzalez, according to the complaint. Prosecutors also allege Kaihea pulled the trigger in the Cottonfield Way shooting before Kaihea and Hola drew guns on employees at a Florin Road fried chicken carryout.
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The charging document Ransom read in court Thursday painted a picture of a pair on a violent hours-long spree that prosecutors say began with the theft of a minivan from a Regional Transit light-rail station. The spree escalated with the holdup of a Florin Road Church’s Chicken restaurant at gunpoint and ended with the deadly afternoon brawl in a remote Sacramento City College parking lot that killed Gonzalez, left Gonzalez’s cousin Rico Ridgeway, 25, grazed by gunfire and Hola near death after stab wounds that police say were inflicted by Ridgeway.
Both Hola and Ridgeway recovered from their wounds. Ridgeway was later arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in the attack on Hola, but was later released on bail. Ridgeway is scheduled to return to Sacramento Superior Court on Jan. 22.
Outside the courtroom Thursday, Hola’s attorney, Alexander Asterlin, maintained Hola was attacked first and defended himself in the deadly exchange.
“Mr. Hola was stabbed before anything occurred. That raises significant self-defense issues,” Asterlin said, adding that he anticipates receiving discovery evidence from prosecutors next week.
The chaos that followed the City College gunfire led authorities to briefly lock down the campus in the city’s Land Park neighborhood. An independent review of campus authorities’ response to the violence was critical of the school’s warning system and blamed bureaucratic and human error for delays in notifying students and staff. A text message warning that a shooting had occurred on campus came 40 minutes after the shots were fired, according to the review’s findings.
The Sept. 3 incident was the first shooting on a Los Rios Community College District campus, officials said.
Hola was arrested days later on suspicion of robbery and of being a felon in possession of a firearm after Sacramento police found a 9mm handgun during a search of his home. Kaihea, labeled by local authorities as armed and dangerous, eluded authorities for seven weeks before he was arrested in October in the Church’s robbery.
Hola and Kaihea had been held in Sacramento County custody on the strength of the robbery allegations as investigators continued to build their case for murder charges.
By late October, both were labeled “persons of interest” in the City College shooting. Earlier this week, Sacramento County prosecutors announced that they planned to bring new charges against the two.