Crime - Sacto 911

Did a 15-year-old suspect in the slaying of a gas station clerk flee to Mexico with his brother?

Hundreds of people offered condolences when Punjabi Radio posted this picture of Simranjit Singh on Facebook
Hundreds of people offered condolences when Punjabi Radio posted this picture of Simranjit Singh on Facebook Punjabi Radio

Two suspects in the slaying of a 20-year-old gas station clerk on Florin Road last month are believed to be fugitives who fled to their father’s farm in Mexico after the shooting, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court Tuesday.

The two men, Rodolfo Zavala, 23, and his 15-year-old brother, Ramon Zavala, are being sought on murder charges in connection with the July 25 shooting death of Simranjit Singh, 20, after a confrontation at the Chevron gas station at 8498 Florin Road.

One suspect, Alexander Lopez, 40, of Sacramento, is in custody and faces a court hearing Thursday.

The two brothers are believed to have fled to Mexico the night of the shooting, according to a criminal complaint charging the men with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department sought help from the FBI and the District Attorney’s Office has said it will extradite the pair “from anywhere in the world.”

“To date, California state and local law enforcement, despite a thorough and aggressive search, were unsuccessful in apprehending Rodolfo Zavala,” the affidavit says, adding that he and his brother are believed to have been driven to Tijuana, Mexico, where they boarded a bus “for a 36-hour trip to the farm of their father, Rodolfo Zavala Sr., in Salamanca, Guanajuato, Mexico.”

Sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Turnbull said that despite the information in the complaint detectives are uncertain where the suspects are.

“We have not found them yet,” Turnbull said. “They could still be locally.”

Ramon Zavala is suspected of firing the shots that killed Singh, and although he is a juvenile the sheriff’s department released his identity in the name of public safety, Turnbull said. The Bee typically does not name juvenile suspects but is doing so because authorities consider him armed and dangerous to the public.

The shooting occurred about 10:30 p.m. as Singh and a co-worker were cleaning the parking lot and the suspects began hassling one of them. The co-worker went inside to call 911, and the men approached Singh and one of them shot him, Turnbull said.

Turnbull said the shooting appears to be the result of the argument rather than a hate crime against Singh.

“There is absolutely no indication it’s a hate crime,” Turnbull said.

Sam Stanton: 916-321-1091, @StantonSam

Related stories from Sacramento Bee