DINUBA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Figuring out what happened to beloved El Monte Middle School teacher Sergio Martin has not been straightforward for investigators.
“When you make an arrest, you gather more information, and that information takes you to another lead,” Dinuba Police Chief Abel Iriarte said.
Police say Martin was shot and killed inside his home in Dinuba on Monday, Nov 3. Later that week, a juvenile suspect was brought into custody but was released days later.
The Tulare County District Attorney’s office at the time said they needed more evidence from the Dinuba Police.
Now, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the arrest of three more suspects.
They say last week, Dinuba police officers served a search warrant that ultimately led to the arrest of another suspect. He was arrested for burglary and stolen property.
However, the DA did not file charges and he’s since been let out.
On Nov. 10, Dinuba Police said they responded to a home in an unincorporated area of Tulare county and arrested 21-year-old Prisilla Quintana for accessory. While there, police say they also impounded a car they believe was used during the crime. TCSO said she’s been released on a $20,000 bond.
Then on Tuesday, Nov. 14, the Dinuba police arrested 19-year-old Joseph Garcia for murder.
Chief Iriarte says that even though he’s been booked, the investigation isn’t over, and they still need the public’s help.
“A little tiny clue or a little type of evidence maybe a video or a rumor sometimes rumors are actually true,” Iriarte said.
Martin’s family released a statement in the wake of the arrests.
“There are no words that can adequately express the sadness we feel. We are hopeful that the police department and DA’s office are able to work together, and we will continue to let the legal process unfold. This is a devastating time for us, and we are so appreciative of the love and support we are receiving from Sergio’s friends, co-workers, and community,” his family said.
Iriarte says while the community may be confused or frustrated by suspects getting released and at the pace of the investigation, he said this doesn’t mean they won’t be held accountable.
“Just because the suspects were released or had been released, or not filed upon, it doesn’t mean they’re scot-free. There’s consequences. As soon as we put it all together, we’ll talk with the District Attorney’s office and we’ll see what we can do with it and hopefully, we’ll get the filling sooner than later, and then once we do they’ll be back in custody,” Iriarte said.
The sheriff’s office said Garcia is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.