Witness claims he provided E.C. man with gun in 2007 slaying

2014-01-22T19:30:00Z 2014-01-22T23:35:05Z Witness claims he provided E.C. man with gun in 2007 slayingMatt Mikus matt.mikus@nwi.com (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com
January 22, 2014 7:30 pm  • 

HAMMOND | One witness testified being inside the van when reputed Imperial Gangster Richard Reyes fatally shot Rene Alonzo in 2007 on the street near the U.S. Sports Bar in East Chicago.

Armando Ortega, of East Chicago, said he was riding with Reyes the day of the shooting, and that Reyes used his gun to fire out the window.

Ortega, a drug dealer without a gang affiliation, said he had met Reyes previously through a mutual friend, and had previous drug deals with the defendant in 2007, but overall didn't trust him.

On the day of the shooting, he had called a mutual acquaintance for a ride, and Reyes picked him up in a maroon minivan, with Ortega sitting in the passenger seat.

He remembers having a pistol on him and being told by Reyes to hand it over.

Because of an earlier altercation during a festival in East Chicago, Ortega said he thought he was going to get in a fist fight, and didn't intend to provide Reyes the weapon to use.

The van pulled up to the corner, where Ortega said Reyes fired five or six shots through the tinted window, and the van sped off.

Ortega said he and Reyes headed to Gary to hide the car, and that Reyes told Ortega he'd take care of the gun.

He added he did not admit to being in the car to anyone, and lied to police when questioned because he did not want to be involved.

Defense attorney Jack Friedlander questioned that Ortega had reason to give false testimony because Reyes had told police Ortega had the van and had borrowed the van from Reyes the day before the shooting. 

Ortega insisted he never borrowed the van.

The defense also pointed to inconsistencies in the testimony and Ortega's testimony to the grand jury.

Friedlander pointed out that the day of the fight, Ortega had been drinking and using marijuana, and questioned his ability to recall details.

Other witnesses have claimed the window was rolled down during the shooting.

Another witness, one of the 22 alleged Imperial Gangsters indicted who accepted a plea deal, cried when asked to identify Reyes in the courtroom.

Eddie Torres said he was not happy to testify against Reyes, whom he considered a friend.

Torres, 41, of East Chicago, connected Reyes to various drug deals and associated as a member of Imperial Gangsters. He also said he knew of two burglaries Reyes participated in between 2002 and 2003, one in Gary and in Chicago. He also visited the defendant in the hospital when Reyes was shot during a failed burglary.

Torres' cross-examination will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday.

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