Feb 5, 2009 - A Salvadoran man who had been living in New Orleans is wanted for the attempted murder of a Chalmette married couple shot and wounded Tuesday night, Feb. 3, in a vehicle as they were leaving a store parking lot after seeing the assailant for the first time in 15 years after knowing him in El Salvador, Sheriff Jack Stephens said.
Sheriff’s detectives were in the process of obtaining a warrant for the arrest of Jose “Alex’’ Rojas, no age available, who allegedly fired several shots from a vehicle, grazing one man’s jaw and grazing the woman on a hand, neither seriously injured. The victims are a married couple who are from El Salvador but have been living for years in Chalmette. Rojas allegedly fired from a vehicle in which there were two other men who haven’t been identified.
The shooting victims claimed Rojas murdered the male victim’s brother in El Salvador about 15 years ago but they said they hadn't seen him since until they met in a Home Depot store on West Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette the night of Tuesday, Feb. 3.
“There is no way we can verify’’ the story about the killing in El Salvador at this time, said St. Bernard Chief Deputy Sheriff James Pohlmann. “By chance, according to the victims, they had last seen each other in El Salvador but meet in a Home Depot store in Chalmette.’’ “The target (of the shooting) seemed to be the male victim,’’ Pohlmann said.
Anyone with information on Rojas’ whereabouts should call the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office at (504) 271-2501. Rojas, from El Salvador although it isn’t know if he is legally in this country, was last seen driving a 1994 white, 4-door Honda Civic with Louisiana license plate RWZ253 that was registered in Lafayette.
The incident happened just after 7 p.m. on the edge of the Home Depot parking lot in Chalmette on Tuesday night, Feb. 3.
The victims, who were treated for their injuries but not hospitalized, saw the alleged assailant in the store just a short while prior to the shootings, Pohlmann said. Words were exchanged at that time but there wasn’t any other incident in the store. Rojas, who is seen on a store surveillance camera with others helping load items on a cart for a man who may have been employing him, and the others left the store first, Pohlmann said.
He said the victims left the store then went back inside to purchase something else, before again leaving and going to their vehicle.
As they drove at the edge of the parking lot about to exit on to West Judge Perez Drive, Rojas - inside what authorities would later learn was a Chevrolet Blazer – allegedly ambushed the other vehicle and fired several shots, striking the man and woman passengers, Pohlmann said.
Rojas and the unidentified men got away but a sheriff’s deputy on patrol on Wednesday, Feb. 4, spotted a vehicle matching the description of the getaway vehicle as it was parked on East Solidelle Street at LaPlace St., just off Paris Road in Chalmette.
Residents at the address, who said they knew an Alex but he didn’t live there, said the vehicle had been parked there the night before. The car was determined to e the one used in the shooting but no gun was recovered, Pohlmann said.
Sheriff’s detectives, commanded by Col. John Doran, learned Rojas lived in eastern New Orleans but his landlord said Rojas had packed up and left.