HAVERHILL — What started out as an attempt to rob a house of drugs, guns and money turned into a violent bloodbath after three masked men stormed into an apartment on River Street the night of July 23, shooting and injuring two, killing a third man and then leaving one of their own shot dead by mistake, according to court and police documents released today.
So far, one person has been arrested in connection with incident.
Earlier today, Juan Carlos Sanchez, 20, of 23 Chestnut St., Haverhill, was arraigned in Haverhill District Court on some two dozen charges police have filed against him, including two counts of homicide, 8 counts of home invasion, 2 counts of armed assault with intent to murder, 4 counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, 6 counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and 1 count of illegal possession of a firearm, according to police and court officials. He is being held without bail on a previous, drug-related probation violation pending an Aug. 30 probable cause hearing.
Another man who tried to help Sanchez escape from police yesterday is being held on $25,000 cash bail. Matthew Rogers, 26, of 1068 Essex St., Lawrence, is charged with being an accessory after the fact and hindering a police investigation.
Four people were shot in the July 23 incident, including two who were killed: 19-year-old William Melchionda, of 629-635 River St., and Anddy Guzman, a 20-year-old Lawrence man. Two others were taken to Boston hospitals with injuries that were non-life threatening.
According to court documents, three masked men entered Melchionda's ground-floor apartment around 10:30 p.m.
Police said in their reports that Sanchez had called a woman several times leading up to and during the night of July 23, saying he wanted to rob the apartment "because he knew they were dealing drugs from the apartment and they were keeping large amounts of cash and possibly guns in the apartment."
The masked men encountered two people sitting in the kitchen as they entered through a back door. According to witnesses, one of the masked assailants began to pistol-whip the two victims in the kitchen. One of the suspects asked the people in the apartment to empty their pockets, but before they could, one of the assailants shot two of them, injuring them.
A third suspect went into a front bedroom, where two more people were located. As one of the victims was leaving the bedroom, he was shot by one of the suspects, according to the police report. That victim turned out to Melchionda, who, after being shot, began running out of the apartment, pursued by two of the shooters. He was found later on the street in front of the building, where he died.
Police also believe that at some point during the shooting and violent struggle, Sanchez actually shot one of the other men involved in the alleged home invasion. Police found Anddy Guzman, a 20-year-old Lawrence man, outside the house with a fatal gunshot injury. He was wearing a black mask and had an empty pistol holder. Sanchez allegedly told a witness interviewed by police that he mistakenly shot Guzman.
"The witness told police Sanchez said he robbed the victims with 'Tego,' who was found to be Andy Guzman, and that after he shot him, he rolled him over and took Guzman's gun," police documents say.
The third assailant is still at-large and an investigation is ongoing, according to the Essex County District Attorney's office.
Sanchez was arrested yesterday by Haverhill police after he allegedly jumped from a Honda Civic at a Ford Street intersection, then led as many as seven police officers through the woods and attempted to escape in a car driven by Rogers.
Rogers' court-appointed attorney, Becky Whitehill, argued for lesser bail, saying Rogers, who grew up in Haverhill but now lives in Lawrence, had a full-time job in Lowell that he could lose if he's not released. She also said he had two pending cases against him, one in Superior Court and another in federal court, but she didn't specify the nature of those cases.
Sanchez's court-appointed attorney for today's hearing was Ron Ranta.
Haverhill reporter Mike Labella contributed to this report.