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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- An Ogden man arrested for investigation of the killing of two people and the wounding of two others denies shooting anyone during a dispute that started at a weekend wedding party.
Riqo Mariano Perea, 19, in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune at the Weber County jail, says disrespectful words often trigger gang violence.
"That's how innocent people get hurt all the time," Perea told the newspaper. "It's a matter of respect when you're in a gang. You got to keep the respect."
Perea was arrested Tuesday in Layton and booked for investigation of two counts of first-degree felony homicide and two counts of first-degree felony attempted homicide, said police Lt. Tony Fox.
Fox said no other arrests were expected. The shooting stemmed from an earlier argument, he said.
"This was one individual acting at the spur of the moment out of anger," Fox said. "Hopefully, since we picked him up, things will die down."
Perea told the newspaper he is a member of Ogden Trece and that he was in a maroon sport utility vehicle leaving the scene when the shooting occurred outside a north Ogden house. But he denied shooting anyone.
Perea said it was an insulting expletive shouted at the post-wedding party that led to the gunfire. A Norteno gang member shouted something disrespectful to rival members of Ogden Trece, concluding with: "Big time Norte."
"Saying 'big time' is like saying you're the hardest," Perea told the newspaper. "None of that stuff that night would have happened if dude hadn't said nothing."
Killed were Sabrina Prieto, 22, and Rosendo Nevarez, 29. Two others were wounded.
Police said members of the NorteIno gang wear red. Ogden Trece members wear blue. Perea said he was born into Ogden Trece because his mother was once a member, although his father is a NorteIno member.
On Monday, a man was shot seven times and pushed out of a car in what police called retaliation for the early Sunday shootings. No arrest has been made in that case.
In November, Perea was charged with attempted homicide in Ogden, accused of shooting into a car of five people and wounding one.
In March, Weber County District Attorney Mark DeCaria dropped all charges in that case. He declined to say why Tuesday.
It was a lack of evidence, said James Retallick, Perea's public defender in the case.
Prosecutors can re-file the charges if new evidence turns up.
When the charges against Perea were dropped, "I gave him advice to get out of the gang life and do something positive with his life, that he got a huge break in this case," Retallick said.
But Perea told the newspaper he didn't.
"I was planning on doing it," Perea said. "But it's hard to get out of a gang, and even then you still got enemies on the street."
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)