The two teenagers wanted for the shooting death of a 21-year-old Riverbank man were apprehended Monday in Redding after a Shasta County Sheriff’s deputy recognized one of the teens as a suspect from an assault in Redding.
Daniel Pantoja, 18, of Riverbank and Turlock Diaz, 14, of Turlock were taken into custody in Redding after spending more than five weeks on the lam.
The events leading to their arrests started to unfold around 11:30 a.m. Monday when Shasta County Sheriff Deputy Julie Soksoda spotted Pantoja and immediately recognized him as a wanted suspect for an assault in June at a Redding convenience store.
Pantoja saw the deputy see him and took off running toward a wooded area alongside a creek.
A California Highway Patrol helicopter was called in to aid in the search and based on his direction, investigators determined Pantoja was headed to a nearby home.
The Shasta County Sheriff’s and the Redding Police departments tracked Pantoja to the home and surrounded it. Eventually Pantoja and Diaz were taken into custody by the Redding Police Department without any incident.
Both teens, along with Jah-Kari Phyall, 15, of Turlock were wanted for the Aug. 5 killing of Chaz Bettencourt outside a convenience store.
Bettencourt and a friend had driven to the convenience store to buy soda and were accosted by the three suspects in the parking lot. According to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, the suspects were attempting to take the men’s vehicle. The friend went back into the store to ask the clerk to call 911 and then heard several shots ring out. He ran out to find Bettencourt suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and the suspects fleeing on foot. Bettencourt was transported to Doctors Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.Investigators were able to use video surveillance from the store to generate leads as to the suspects’ identities.Phyall was arrested Aug. 12 in Modesto. He is being held at the Stanislaus County Juvenile Hall. Pantoja and Diaz are being held at Shasta County detention facilities and are awaiting transport back to Stanislaus County. Diaz’s return could be soon said Stanislaus County Sheriff Deputy Andrew Winter, though Pantoja may face his charges in Shasta County before being sent back.All three face charges of murder, attempted carjacking, and criminal gang enhancements. Pantoja also is facing assault and gang enhancement charges in Shasta County. The charges stem from an attack outside a Redding convenience store where a man was severely beaten and then later shot at while he was driving.Winter said it was unknown if any firearms were recovered during the arrest or how the suspects are connected to the Redding home’s residents.To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.