Family Of Slain Teenager Speaks After 3 Arrested In Connection With Case

Oct 24, 2019, 10:47 PM

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — The family of 19-year-old Neko Jardine, who was shot during a house party in July, is speaking out following the arrest of three suspects in the case.

“We are extremely grateful that arrests have finally been made. It’s a combination of being so grateful that this day has finally come,” said Jardine’s aunt Kerry Dalling. “It has been over three months and we have been waiting, hoping and trying to keep things alive.”

From high school football games to marches with the community’s support, Jardine’s family has been rallying for answers into the July 14 shooting that killed Jardine during a fight at a house party in West Valley City.

Jardine’s family said he was shot after trying to break up a fight at the home located near 5600 West and 4400 South.

“It’s horrible that the was in the wrong place at the wrong time, it shouldn’t have happened he should be here fulfilling his dreams,” Dalling said.

Through forensic analysis, police linked three men to the homicide, who were arrested Wednesday.

“It’s hard to see the faces of the perpetrators, it’s devastating,” Dalling said.

Police said 18-year-old Jose Joel Nunez-Perez drove a 2007 red Toyota Camry that matched a picture of the suspect’s vehicle.

A probable cause statement also connected Nunez-Perez to three Salt Lake Valley shootings in August and September.

Police said they worked in partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as well as analysts from the Statewide Information and Analysis Center to identify Nunez-Perez.

“There are two other people who are connected to him that they now believe are also connected to the Neko Jardine homicide,” said Roxeanne Vainuku, public information officer for West Valley City Police Department.

Police said 21-year-old Arnol Francisco Zelaya was already under home monitoring for another unrelated case when he was taken into custody on Wednesday.

“We don’t know the exact roles that each of these people played but what we do know is that they are all connected to this, car, they are all connected to the weapon that was used in the Neko Jardine homicide and they are all connected to each other,” said Roxeanne Vainuku, Public Information Officer for West Valley City Police Department.

Luis Sebastian-Enciso, 19, had two guns when he was arrested including a stolen 9mm pistol. The pistol matches the description of two guns police suspect were involved in the shooting.

Jose Perez. (Courtesy Salt Lake County Jail) Arnol Perez-Zelaya. (Courtesy Salt Lake County Jail) Luis Sebastian-Enciso. (Courtesy Salt Lake County Jail)

“We don’t know for sure that that’s the 9mm that was used in the Neko Jardine homicide but it is being tested,” Vainuku said.

Police said with about 40 people at the party, nearly half witnessed the shooting. But few have come forward. Neko’s family said it hopes they’ll speak up.

“Neko will never be back but his memory needs to live on and these people who did this to him need to be stopped so that they don’t hurt anyone else,” Dalling said.

West Valley Police said more arrests may come.

“Detectives are investigating two people who are already in custody on unrelated cases to determine whether they are connected to the Jardine homicide,” WVC PD said in a press release.

According to police, the suspects each face charges of homicide, attempted homicide and obstruction.

In the meantime, a GoFundMe* account has been created to help cover Neko’s medical and funeral expenses.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Family Of Slain Teenager Speaks After 3 Arrested In Connection With Case