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March 2, 2021

Man arrested for allegedly shooting, killing reported ‘friend’

WATSONVILLE—Watsonville police arrested a 19-year-old man for allegedly shooting and killing a man who officers say was his “friend” on Jan. 7.

Ricardo Garcia was taken into custody on the 1400 block of Freedom Boulevard on Feb. 12. Watsonville Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Pulido said detectives believe he is the primary suspect in the shooting death of 30-year-old Octavio Varela on S. Green Valley Road.

Garcia, a known gang member, faces charges of involuntary manslaughter with firearms enhancements and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

Garcia was booked into Santa Cruz County Jail. His bail has been set at $100,000. 

Pulido said police believe Garcia, who was heavily intoxicated and in the backseat of a car Varela was driving, was playing with a gun when he fired it. 

“Instead of rendering aid to his friend, Garcia quickly fled the area,” Pulido said in a press release.

The night of the shooting, Garcia stumbled back into the crime scene after hiding in a nearby mobile home park, Pulido said. Officers arrested him for being drunk in public and later identified him as the shooter in this case.

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