Erick Mendez-Orellana, 23, had finished laundry at a coin Laundromat in Capitol Heights and was just steps away from home when he was killed by at least two unknown gunmen Tuesday night, said Prince George’s police who are still investigating the gang-related homicide.
Police received a call around 8:30 p.m. when Mendez-Orellana was shot multiple times in the 4900 block of Marlboro Pike before the suspects ran away, said Lt. Bill Alexander, a county police spokesman.
“The incident occurred outside while he was walking home. The victim survived for a while [after the shooting],” said Alexander, who said Mendez-Orellana died around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday after being rushed to a hospital.
His neighbors and friends said he was shot three times including once in the temple after returning home, but police have not confirmed where he was struck or by how many bullets.
Alexander said Mendez-Orellana “had ties” to the 18th Street gang, or Mara-18, a nationwide criminal organization that started as a street gang in Los Angeles, but the extent of his involvement is still being determined.
Police have not identified the suspects or found a murder weapon as of Thursday.
As detectives investigate the county’s 20th homicide, neighbors and roommates of Mendez-Orellana’s said they are becoming leery of violent crime.
By March 12 last year, there were 10 recorded homicides, according to county police reports.
“I want to move,” said Daniel Lopez, 26, who lived in the same house as Mendez-Orellana before he was killed.
Lopez said he had been living with Mendez-Orellana for about four months before he was gunned down. He said Mendez-Orellana “played” with known gang members and had gang-related tattoos on his arms, but was not an actual member and did not attend gang-related meetings.
“I was shopping in Suitland and when I came back police were here and he had been shot. It was so shocking,” he said. “He was a very nice guy. He always played soccer.”
Lopez said two months ago Mendez-Orellana was beaten by several men nearby and came back home with wounds, but he never notified police and had to be convinced to seek medical attention.
“Everybody is scared here,” Lopez said. “It’s scary to be here when it gets dark. ... I try to stay inside.”
Mendez-Orellana lived next to a car wash business where he was employed.
Sung Park, a manager at Clean Car Wash, said the owner of Clean Car Wash also owns the home next door, which Mendez-Orellana had been renting.
Employees at the car wash said Mendez-Orellana had been working there for almost two years. Park said Mendez-Orellana had a wife, a son and a daughter.
Attempts to reach Mendez-Orellana’s family members were not successful.
Park said he reviewed the car wash’s surveillance camera, which he has not yet discussed with police, after the incident and it showed two individuals running west on Marlboro Pike towards a BP gas station before crossing the road directly following the time of the incident.
“I don’t think it was random, but I don’t know. It seems like they were waiting for him,” said Park. “Too many young people are involved in violence.”