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Six facing trial for York City homicide in 3rd Base parking lot

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
One man is dead and another in critical condition following an early morning shooting in the 500 block of N. George Street, Sunday, September 22, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Six York-area residents await trial in the Sept. 22 homicide of Jose Nuñez-Cruz, which happened during a melee in the parking lot of a York City restaurant, police said.

Three of them were formally arraigned in York County Court on Wednesday, Jan. 29, on charges of first-degree murder, third-degree murder and related offenses.

They are Eric Jole Dejesus, 25, of the 600 block of West Princess Street; Carlos Alberto Torres, 24, of the 600 block of West King Street; and Reynaldo Manuel Santana-Cruz, 22, of the 500 block of West Princess Street.

All three remain in York County Prison without bail, as does fourth co-defendant Jonathan Lee Romero, 22, of York City, who also is charged with first-degree murder and lesser offenses.

Additionally, Romero, Dejesus and Santana-Cruz are charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault for the nonfatal shooting of a second man during the melee — Alberto Illarza-Esponda.

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The two other co-defendants — Jalitza Santos, 28, and Ashley Mettic Jones, 23, both of York City — are charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit that offense. Santos is free on $20,000 bail, while Jones is free on $10,000 unsecured bail.

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Charging documents against at least some of the six co-defendants were initially sealed so that the ones who hadn't yet been arrested weren't tipped off about being wanted by York City Police, according to Officer Derek Hartman, department spokesman.

Jose A. Nunez-Cruz was fatally shot on Sept. 22, 2019, in York City.

Nuñez-Cruz was 24 and lived in Dallastown, according to his obituary, which states he was a graduate of William Penn Senior High School and loved riding ATVs and motorcycles.

Charging documents state that he and Illarza-Esponda were shot about 2 a.m. Sept. 22 in the parking lot of 3rd Base Family Restaurant, 512 N. George St.

The allegations: The victims were inside 3rd Base Restaurant when Santana-Cruz walked in and began staring at the men, police said. A short time later, Santos and Torres came in and also started staring at the victims, documents state.

A confrontation happened inside the restaurant, but both groups of people left the restaurant and spilled into the parking lot, after which employees locked the door, police said.

Video surveillance of the parking lot showed that the altercation ended once the groups were in the parking lot but reignited for some reason, documents state.

"Santos can be heard yelling, 'My boy(s) are coming,' while making hand gestures ... in the form of a gun and several hand claps," charging documents state.

Six people are charged in connection with the Sept. 22, 2019, homicide of Jose Nunez-Cruz in York City.
Top row, left to right: Carlos Torres, Eric Dejesus, Reynaldo Santana-Cruz
Bottom row, left to right: Jonathan Lee Romero, Ashley Mettic Jones, Jalitza Santos

It appeared the confrontation was ending again, until Santana-Cruz said something to Nuñez-Cruz and more words were exchanged, police said.

Several people involved got into fighting stances, at which point four others — Dejesus, Romero, Jones and an as-yet unidentified shooter — joined the fight, documents state.

"It is clear from the video that the four individuals arrived to assist co-defendants Santana-Cruz and Santos in the assault on (the) victims," documents state.

'General melee': Dejesus sucker-punched Nuñez-Cruz in the face, at which point "all parties engage in a general melee," according to charging documents.

During the fight, Torres waved and called out to the shooter, who ran over to him and shot at Nuñez-Cruz several times, striking him in the head, according to police.

One man is dead and another in critical condition following an early morning shooting in the 500 block of N. George Street, Sunday, September 22, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

The shooter then pointed his gun at a third person, who raised his hands and backed away, police said

That's when the shooter pointed his 9 mm handgun at Illarza-Esponda, who raised his hands and retreated but was shot anyway, documents state.

Illarza-Esponda suffered at least one gunshot wound to the abdomen and was rushed to York Hospital in a private vehicle, police said.

The 30-year-old suffered life-threatening injuries, police said at the time.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.