WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah, May 30, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — On the two-year-anniversary of his ambush and death of 16-year-old Fernando Aranda, West Valley City police have announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to charges being filed in the shooting.
The teen was walking near his home on Thayn Drive when he was approached by a group of males, assaulted, shot and left to die in the road.
“For two years, West Valley City Police investigators have put in a tremendous amount of work to solve this case, and while they are very close, help from the public is needed,” a WVCPD statement says.
“In an effort to focus new attention on this case and to encourage those who know something about this homicide to come forward, the Office of West Valley City Police Chief Colleen Jacobs has, for the first time, offered a reward in an unsolved case.
“The chief’s office is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to charges being filed in the Fernando Aranda homicide.”
“Anyone with information in this case is encouraged to call 801-840-4000. It is important to note that those providing tips in this case can remain confidential.”
WVCPD Detective Ryan Morrill said at a Thursday morning news conference that about 9:30 p.m. two years ago today, a light-colored SUV approached Aranda as he was walking.
“Several young males got out of the SUV and began to assault Fernando,” Morrill said.
“At least one of the males produced a handgun, and Fernando was shot several times. The suspects then got back into the light-colored SUV and fled, leaving Fernando in the street, where he later died of his injuries.
“That night I had the awful responsibility of speaking to Fernando’s mother and telling her about what had happened,” Morrill said. “I had to tell her her son was killed in what appeared to be an ambush-style attack.”
Morrill said the circumstances of the attack are “unique,” and the investigative team is confident it can solve the murder. It is close, he said, but needs some final bits of information from the public.
“There are witnesses who saw this incident that know more than what they are telling investigators,” Morrill said. “There are associates of the people responsible for Fernando’s death who are aware of the details, but are afraid to speak up.”
Morrill said the department is aware that people have fear of talking with authorities on such violent cases.
“We will do everything in our power to keep those who provide information confidential or anonymous.”
Police are also hoping to identified two people who may have information in the case, but who are known only by nicknames or street monikers — Netto and Nessio (spelling unknown), or some variation on those names. The two are believed to be brothers, Morrill said.
“Again, I want to stress that we will do anything inside our power to keep you anonymous and confidential, so there’s no need to worry about any backlash.”
Speaking at the news conference through a Spanish-English translator, Fernando’s mother, Azelia Salgado, said her son was often bullied and called ugly by schoolmates.
Fernando was always helping others, she said, but could not find help for himself.