Home News Crime & Incidents Car-to-car shooting in Riverside leads to gang member’s murder conviction

Car-to-car shooting in Riverside leads to gang member’s murder conviction

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A gang member who fatally shot a 20-year-old man during a car-to-car exchange of gunfire that followed a chase stemming from the defendant’s aggressive acts to promote his gang was convicted today of first-degree murder and other charges.

A Riverside jury deliberated nearly two days before finding Steven Daniel Carrillo, 24, of Riverside guilty of killing Derrion Thomas of Rialto in 2020.

Along with the murder count, jurors convicted Carrillo of attempted murder, special-circumstance allegations of killing for the benefit of a criminal street gang and perpetrating a hate crime, as well as sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.

They acquitted him of one attempted murder charge.

Jurors started deliberations Wednesday morning, after the prosecution and defense delivered closing arguments Tuesday afternoon. The panel announced it had reached a verdict late Thursday afternoon.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jerry Yang scheduled a sentencing hearing for June 28 at the Riverside Hall of Justice. Carrillo, who is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail, is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The defendant is a documented member of Riverside’s oldest street gang, prevalent in the area along the University Avenue corridor, authorities said.

In late October 2020, Carrillo was staying with fellow gang members in a room at the Motel 6 near the intersection of Iowa and University avenues, according to briefs filed by the District Attorney’s Office and the defense.

Staying in a room nearby were Sharon Mayweather, Isaiah Smith and Thomas, all related. On Oct. 24, Mayweather was released from the downtown Riverside jail, where she had been held for unspecified reasons, and she became intoxicated at the motel, according to court papers.

“She was hanging around Mr. Carrillo’s (black Jaguar) in the parking lot, and he told her to get away from his vehicle,” according to the defense.

There was a hostile exchange before she returned to her room.

Two days later, on the night of Oct. 26, Thomas and Smith were preparing to drive in the latter’s Saturn sedan to pick up food, and Mayweather was trailing behind when she encountered Carrillo in his car, leading to another confrontation, during which she told Smith and Thomas the defendant had threatened her. They doubted her claims and “ushered” her into the car, the defense said.

Prosecutors said the defendant was incensed, possibly because he had been publicly challenged by a woman in front of three juvenile gang members.

Although his Jaguar had been pointed in the direction opposite to where the victims were going, he turned around and pursued them eastbound on University, according to the prosecution’s brief.

Court papers state the victims tried to avoid further contact, racing through traffic lights until they reached the left turn lane to go into the Food4Less grocery store parking lot at University and Chicago avenues. Carrillo pulled alongside and shouted profanity-laced challenges, at which point Thomas pulled a semiautomatic handgun and “fired up to 11 rounds at Mr. Carrillo,” the defense said.

The Jaguar’s driver’s side window was blown out, but Carrillo and the youths with him were not hit. Smith tried to pull his own pistol out of his front pocket, but the trigger caught on his pants, and he shot himself in the right thigh, according to court documents.

Carrillo pulled his own 9mm pistol and fired into the Saturn, striking Thomas twice, including a fatal wound to the chest, according to the prosecution. Smith tried to flee when the shots were fired but crashed into a traffic sign. He stumbled out of the car and hobbled away to get help.

Mayweather was not injured. Thomas stepped out of the car and collapsed.

Carrillo fled the scene.

Thomas was taken to Riverside Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Smith underwent surgery to his leg and fully recovered.

Relying on security surveillance video from the motel and businesses along University, Riverside police detectives were able to identify the perpetrator, and an arrest warrant was served on him without incident two weeks later at a residence in the 2300 block of Candlestick Way in Perris.

Investigators seized his journal, in which he “bragged about the shooting,” according to the prosecution’s brief, which said he referred to the victims as “snails” and wrote that “there is a sort of war” between groups.

“The defendant noted he was proud he was able to show the little homies how to gang bang,” the brief said.

The defense blamed Mayweather for provoking the altercation, additionally asserting Carrillo was not the one who initiated violence that night.

1 COMMENT

  1. This is a tough situation 😕 A tough decision 😕 😳 to make regarding 😕 the defendants fate. Carillo chased after them, Thomas shot at them, Carillo shot Thomas. Thomas died. What do you make 🤔 of all this?

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