A member of the violent MS-13 gang is headed to prison for his role in fatally shooting a rival inside a Long Island deli -- because the other man was wearing a Peyton Manning jersey.
Jose Suarez was convicted on Thursday on charges of murder, racketeering, and assault for the January 29 murder of Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla. As The New York Post reported, Suarez had been accused of a history of violent acts within the gang, including a 2016 incident in which he attacked another man in Brentwood.
As the report noted, the 24-year-old gang member -- who went by "Chompira" -- served as the getaway driver for the murder. He also relayed messages to other gang members as they went into the El Campesino Deli and shot the victim in the head. The report said that he was trying to "earn his stripes" in the gang by participating in the rival's slaying.
As federal authorities noted, members of the gang had marked the rival for death because the man was seen wearing a No. 18 Peyton Manning jersey, which was a call sign of the rival 18th Street Gang. The attack also wounded a female deli clerk, who was struck with the bullet that went through the victim's head.
"Suarez has been held responsible for the execution-style murder of a suspected gang rival and violent assaults, ruthless crimes that reflect the danger to our communities posed by MS-13," said the U.S. attorney that prosecuted the case. "By his actions the defendant sought status within the gang, and with today's verdict, what he has found instead is a mandatory sentence of life in prison."The shooting came amid a spate in violence on Long Island between members of MS-13 and other rival gangs. As Long Island News 12 reported, another killing in Central Islip last year allegedly took place because an MS-13 gang member was angry that a classmate would not hang out with him.
Police claim that 17-year-old Melquisedec Antonio Sanchez-Hernandez fatally shot Emilio Sanchez Maldonado outside the victim's home. The boy's body was found hours later by his father when he returned home from work.
Prosecutors say Sanchez-Hernandez used social media to lure the victim out of his home, then launched the fatal attack. Family members said Maldonado had been trying to stay away from bad influences and hung out with friends who protected him from the gang.
Jose Suarez faces a mandatory minimum of life in prison for the conviction.