LONG BEACH (CNS) - Eight people pleaded not guilty today to charges stemming from a shooting at a Long Beach party last October that left three men dead and nine other people wounded, in what investigators believe was a case of gang-related mistaken identity.
David Heng Long, 20, Ryan Sim, 18, Jeremy Penh, 25, Danny Sourn, 26, and Joshua Sam, 41, all of Long Beach; are charged along with Kaylin Thik, 21, of Ontario, Christopher Williams, 28, of Redlands, and Grant Johnson, 35, of Orange.
The murder charges include the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and gang-related murders, along with gun and gang allegations.
Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty against any of the eight defendants, who are also charged with nine counts of attempted murder.
Maurice Poe Jr., 25, of Long Beach, Melvin Williams II, 35, of Gardena, and Ricardo Torres, 28, of Inglewood, died at the scene of the shooting, which occurred about 10:40 p.m. last Oct. 29 at a Halloween-themed party in the 2700 block of East Seventh Street in the city's Rose Park area.
“This is an extremely complex and detailed case, and we now know that this was a pre-planned attack on what the suspects incorrectly believed to be a party of rival gang members,'' Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said earlier this month. “None of the victims at that party were gang members.''
The police chief said investigators determined that eight suspects, who are reportedly in a Long Beach gang, traveled in three vehicles to the crime scene and targeted the gathering. They parked near the home and walked to the alley, Luna said.
About 25 to 30 people were in the backyard of the home when the suspects opened fire into the crowd from the alley, the chief said.
“Ballistics confirmed that the shots were fired from three different handguns,'' Luna said during a briefing on the case. “We believe that we have the shooters -- the three shooters that were responsible for firing indiscriminately into this backyard -- in custody.''
Many of the partygoers worked together and lived outside of Long Beach, he said.
Police identified the wounded victims as a 20-year-old woman from Anaheim, a 27-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man, both from Hawthorne, a 27-year-old man from Cudahy, a 28-year-old woman and a 49-year-old woman, both from Los Angeles, a 28-year-old woman from Gardena, a 30-year-old woman from Compton and a 32-year-old woman from Lawndale.
Sourn was already in custody following his Aug. 13 arrest by Long Beach police in connection with a 2018 murder case, and Penh has been jailed since Feb. 8 on an attempted murder case.
The police chief said authorities seized eight firearms during the course of the investigation, and forensic analysis was pending to determine if they were used in the shooting.