Suspect from 2016 SLC murder extradited from Mexico

Jan 7, 2022, 8:08 AM | Updated: 12:03 pm
FILE: Salt Lake City Police...
FILE: Salt Lake City Police

SALT LAKE CITY — A 27-year-old man wanted in connection to the 2016 murder of Paris Gustin in Salt Lake City has been arrested and extradited from Mexico, according to police.

Officials with the Salt Lake City Police Department said Fortunato Villagrana was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on one charge of murder and three counts of felony discharge of a firearm.

SLCPD’s investigation began on July 5, 2016, after officers received reports of a shooting near 1100 West and 600 North.

According to police, Paris was inside a Honda with two other juveniles when someone in another vehicle in the Fairpark neighborhood fired several shots at them. Paris, who was in the front passenger seat, was hit and killed.

Detectives said the shooting “appeared to be retaliatory after a group of teens drove around throwing eggs at various items and people from a moving vehicle.”

Authorities later identified Villagrana and Martin Antonio Cruz, both 22 at the time, as persons of interest in the shooting.

“Prior to the shooting, an egg thrown from a vehicle hit Villagrana in the ear and landed in the back seat of his vehicle,” police said. “Detectives learned Villagrana drove to his residence, collected a firearm and he, and … Cruz, began searching for the people who threw the egg at him.”

After the shooting, investigators said they believe Cruz was the driver of the vehicle that chased Gustin and his friends while Villagrana leaned out of the vehicle and used an AK-47 to shoot the car.

Police, during an August 2016 press conference with Paris’ mother, said such vandalism happens frequently, and it doesn’t justify going after someone or retaliating with a gun.

Cruz and Villagrana were charged in February 2017 in Utah’s 3rd District Court with murder, a first-degree felony; discharge of a firearm causing serious injury, a first-degree felony; and two counts of discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony.

Detectives said Villagrana fled to Mexico while Cruz was arrested for a separate incident, where he allegedly rammed a West Valley City police vehicle.

Cruz’s next court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 24.

“Working with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Department of Justice and the United States Marshals Service, law enforcement located and arrested Villagrana in Mexico,” police said.

Villagrana was transported back to Salt Lake City by the U.S. Marshals Service on Thursday.

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Suspect from 2016 SLC murder extradited from Mexico