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Search Continues for Murder Suspect

Search of suspect’s Woodbridge home reveals gang links.

The search continues for an unidentified man wanted in connection with the shooting of Jose Claudio Araniva in the Nauck neighborhood, a murder investigators now believe is tied to local gang activity.

A Jan. 12 search of Araniva's home by police in the 17000 block of Horner Road in Woodbridge, Prince William County, revealed evidence linking him to three known gangs, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), the South Side Locos (SSL) and one known as Brown Pride. The affidavit filed by detectives after the search states police also discovered an array of knives, a rifle bullet, a tape recorder and a computer. The affidavit indicates that police believe the computer may contain further electronic evidence and that several members of the SSL were in the vicinity of the crime scene. Police are hesitant to release any information about the ongoing case.

“We're still looking for the suspect,” said Matt Martin, spokesman for the Arlington County Police Department. “We don't want to risk giving too much away until then. We've had several detectives working this case since this shooting happened.”

Initial police reports released after the shooting state that around 8 p.m., Jan. 10, residents on the 1700 block of South Edgewood Street called 911 to report the sound of gunfire. Shortly afterward, a resident on the 1400 block of South Walter Reed Drive reported that a gray Corvette had crashed onto his front lawn. Witnesses told police they saw two men approach the car as it sat near the curb on Edgewood Street. Two men, dressed from head to toe in black, reportedly approached the vehicle from behind. One fired a shotgun into the driver's side, hitting Araniva in the shoulder and in the neck. Bleeding, Araniva sped away from the scene, only to crash after losing consciousness. Araniva was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he later died.

The two men fled the scene immediately and were later pursued by a police K-9 unit. The trail ran cold, but police caught one suspect, a 17-year-old boy, Jan. 14. Police declined to release the boy's name. Martin also declined to reveal what led to the boy's arrest.

Araniva's death marks the first murder in Arlington County since the start of 2005 and, if the shooting is gang-related, the tenth such killing in about three years, Martin said. According to Martin, MS-13 is one of Northern Virginia's most prevalent gangs. It is believed to have been formed from the remnants of El Salvadoran paramilitary groups in the wake of that nation's civil war. Brown Pride has a long history of mayhem throughout the United States. It also has several affiliated Web sites.