2 witnesses say E.C. man was shooter in 2007 slaying

2014-01-21T20:00:00Z 2014-01-21T21:37:09Z 2 witnesses say E.C. man was shooter in 2007 slayingMatt Mikus matt.mikus@nwi.com (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com
January 21, 2014 8:00 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Two witnesses claimed to see alleged Imperial Gangster Richard Reyes driving a maroon minivan that was involved in the 2007 drive-by shooting of Rene Alonzo outside the U.S. Sports Bar in East Chicago.

Michael Comanse and Roberto Rodriguez, of East Chicago, testified at Reyes' federal trial Tuesday that they saw Reyes driving the minivan and saw the gunfire from the driver's side window that killed Alonzo.

Comanse said he parked his car on the opposite side of 140th Street about half a block away from the bar. He testified he saw the minivan pass by with Reyes in the driver's seat and a second person in the passenger seat.

The minivan continued to the intersection of 140th and Alder Street, where Alonzo was standing by his car on the phone. 

Rodriguez was standing a few feet away from Alonzo when he saw Alonzo turn to look at the minivan, and he saw someone inside the car open fire. 

Rodriguez testified he remembered seeing Reyes in the car, but could not tell if Reyes was holding a gun.

Both Rodriguez and Comanse said they and Alonzo were once associated with the Latin Kings, a rival gang to the Imperial Gangsters, but all three had given up that lifestyle before the day of the shooting.

Rodriguez and Comanse testified they didn't provide any information to police at the time of the shooting because they wanted their own form of revenge.

Comanse said it wasn't until the federal investigation that he decided to volunteer information. Rodriguez said he provided information after he was contacted by police.

Jack Friedlander, Reyes' defense attorney, challenged the witnesses' timeline and questioned why they waited years after Alonzo's death to talk to police.

Reyes, 41, of East Chicago, has been charged with racketeering, conspiracy to deal cocaine and marijuana, murder in the aid of racketeering activity and murder resulting from the use of a firearm.

A total of 24 alleged Imperial Gangsters have been indicted in connection with the federal investigation. Reyes is one of two alleged gang members who has not agreed to a plea deal to reduce his sentence.

Anthony Beldoza, 24, who agreed to cooperate with prosecutors for a plea deal, said he saw Reyes deliver a duffel bag full of marijuana and make three different deliveries of cocaine to Guillermo Briseno, 27. Beldoza said he was staying at Briseno's place on occasion during the summer of 2007 when Reyes arrived with the drugs.

"It had to be more than 50 pounds," Beldoza said.

He believed Reyes served as Briseno's main source to sell drugs, he said.

Defense attorney Friedlander questioned how Beldoza knew the amount of drugs delivered if he didn't document it. Beldoza said if he were to take out a scale or take a photo of the drugs it would "seem kind of fishy."

Friedlander also questioned why Beldoza recalled only one other person — who has since died — present for any of the drug deliveries.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. today.

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