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Shooting case to go to grand jury

By Ed Brock

The case against Pablo Gomez, charged with murder in the shooting death of Arturo Sanchez at a July 6 birthday party, will now go to a grand jury for indictment consideration.

During a preliminary hearing for Pablo Gomez, 26, held Tuesday Clayton County Police Detective Rick Barnes testified about what witness to the shooting, including Sanchez's widow Rosario Estedes, told him about the incident.

The shooting occurred around 1:45 a.m. at the Tara Center on Tara Boulevard during a birthday party. Contrary to previous police reports on the incident, Sanchez' brother Gerardo Sanchez was not involved in a fight with Gomez nor were any other relatives of Sanchez, Barnes said.

Instead, Barnes said Gomez had shared words with another man and because of that was being escorted from the building by private security guards hired for the party. It was then that the shooting occurred.

"As he got clear of the front door he turned and started shooting," Barnes testified.

Gomez fired about eight rounds from a handgun, according to what the witnesses told Barnes, and two of the rounds hit Arturo Sanchez as he stood with Estedes, his common-law wife of four years, and their 3-year-old son.

When asked by Gomez's lawyer, James Studdard, if there was any "bad blood" between Gomez and Sanchez, Barnes said he didn't know but also added that most of the bullets were fired in his direction.

"I would assume he was shooting at Mr. Sanchez," Barnes said.

Barnes said that the family told him Sanchez did not know Gomez.

The witnesses then said Gomez and his girlfriend Gilra Salinas, 20, ran from the Tara Center. They were later arrested in a nearby trailer park where they live.

Salinas, who told police they had been at home all night, was also arrested and charged with giving false information to police.

"She was misleading through the whole conversation," Barnes testified.

Although the gun used to kill Sanchez, believed to be a .380, was not found, Barnes said he understood that Sanchez had owned three guns and one, a .22 pistol, was found in his trailer on the night of the shooting.

The results of tests for gunpowder residue on Gomez's hands are still pending, Barnes said.

Studdard said there was not enough evidence to go forward with the case.

"You're being asked to bind over the case on the testimony of a police officer who says he wasn't even there," Studdard told Clayton County Magistrate Court Judge Clara Bucci. "There were 300 people ? and you single this man out and say he's the killer. It's ridiculous."

Bucci cited the identification of Gomez by Sanchez's family as the shooter in making her decision to bind the case over to a grand jury for indictment consideration.

There will be a bond hearing for Gomez on Friday in Clayton County Superior Court.