Santa Fe police confirmed Tuesday that Louie Perea, named a person of interest in the shooting death of Juan Soto, had been in contact with the person Soto had arranged to meet at a southwest-side park just before the shooting May 17.
According to a criminal complaint, Ryan Dimas, 22, had planned to meet Soto and his friend Kenneth Sanchez at Monica Lucero Park to exchange some stolen motorcycle lights that Soto and Sanchez had stolen for Dimas at Wal-Mart.
Police originally believed Dimas was the only person at the park with Soto and Sanchez. But evidence indicates Dimas was in contact with Perea, 37, before, during and after the shooting, said Santa Fe police Capt. Aric Wheeler, and “we now have reason to believe [Perea] was also at the park.”
Wheeler said police have contacted Perea, but he would not confirm whether Perea was cooperating with investigators in the case. Police also would not confirm whether the meeting in the park was indeed arranged for the exchange of stolen goods or whether it was a setup for the Soto shooting.
Dimas is the son of Santa Fe police Officer Mike Dimas, who is not involved in any aspect of the investigation. Ryan Dimas is charged with two counts of tampering with evidence, trafficking a controlled substance and possession of stolen property as a result of the homicide investigation and remains a person of interest in the case. He pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday in state District Court.
Gabriel Armendariz, 26, also is a person of interest in the case, but police say he was not present when Soto was shot.
As of yet, no one has been charged with murder in the case.
Soto was shot several times in the chest during the exchange in the park before he stumbled to a nearby house, asking for help. He was later pronounced dead at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. His friend Sanchez was shot in the shoulder but was treated and later released from the hospital.
Police have not confirmed if they have found the weapon used to shoot Soto.
Contact Nico Roesler at 986-3089 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nicoroesler.