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Moab murder suspect arrested after 100-mile chase

(Moab Police Department)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A murder suspect out of Moab was captured in Arizona near the Navajo Nation following a 100-mile chase with authorities.

Martin Armento Verduzco-Lopez, who also goes by Omar Guerro, was arrested Wednesday by officers with the Navajo Nation Police Department, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and officers from Tuba City and Kayenta, Arizona.

He was charged Tuesday in 7th District Court with murder, a first-degree felony. Verduzco-Lopez is accused of shooting Edgar Luna Najera, 30, twice in a mobile home, 250 Walnut Lane, on Sunday. A possible motive for the shooting was still being investigated Thursday.

Verduzco-Lopez was arrested along with Jaime Flores-Solis and Jorge Hernandez, both of Moab. Moab Police Chief Jim Winder said detectives believe the other two men are also connected to the homicide and helped Verduzco-Lopez flee the area after the shooting.

Wednesday night, officers with the Navajo Nation received two reports of three men trying to lure young girls from the reservation into their car, Winder said. An officer investigating the suspicious activity spotted the three men near Tuba City about 8 p.m. A short chase ensued on a dirt road, but the officer lost sight of the men, Winder said.

About three hours later, officers spotted the car again parked along the side of a road, though Winder did not immediately know if it was U.S. 89 or U.S. 160. Another chase ensued, he said, this one involving officers from multiple agencies and covering more than 100 miles before the vehicle Verduzco-Lopez was in overheated and broke down, according to the statement.

The three men got out of the vehicle and ran. Two were tracked down and arrested after running into the desert, and a third in a residential area, according to Moab police.

Late Thursday afternoon, Flores-Solis and Hernandez were each charged in Grand County's 7th District Court with obstructing justice, a second-degree felony. Hernandez received an additional charge of drug possession, a class A misdemeanor.

According to charging documents, both men were in the room at the time of the homicide. Hernandez lives in the residence where the shooting occurred, the charges state. Methamphetamine was also found in Hernandez's room, according to court documents.

The charges reveal new details about the alleged crime, including that a total of seven people were in the house at the time, and the victim was shot twice.

"(A) witness described that the two shots were several seconds apart, and that Omar had shot the victim once in the torso and then moved in closer and placed a shot to the deceased victim's head. The witness' testimony of the event is consistent with findings made by the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner during an autopsy of the body," the charges state.

The SUV that the suspects fled the scene in and that was later found abandoned belonged to Hernandez, according to court documents.

"A partially full box of .40 Smith & Wesson ammunition was recovered from the black SUV. The brand and caliber of ammunition in the partial box recovered from the SUV is consistent with some of the ammunition components found at the homicide scene," the charges state.

On Wednesday, a witness met with Flores-Solis in Green River, Utah, the charges state. Flores-Solis said he wanted to borrow his car to drive to Las Vegas, according to the charges, and would return it the next day.

"The vehicle was never returned and when the witness saw the picture of Omar on the news, he realized he had loaned his vehicle to the suspects wanted by police and notified his boss who is related to law enforcement," according to the charges.

The charges also state that Flores-Solis was previously deported following his arrest for investigation of a separate crime in June.

Winder had high praise for authorities in Arizona who didn't know they were chasing a wanted murder suspect until after he was arrested.

Verduzco-Lopez also has an active warrant for aggravated assault out of Denver, according to police.


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