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Ogden investigation: Alleged killer fired 9 shots, hitting victim several times

By Mark Shenefelt - | Jan 24, 2023

Photo supplied, Weber County Jail

Mauro Soto

OGDEN — New charging documents reveal more details of the Jan. 17 ambush shooting death of a 24-year-old Ogden man and the roles allegedly played by the three people arrested after the crime.

Juan G. Garcia Jr., a Ben Lomond High School graduate and the father of a 3-month-old daughter, was in a vehicle near the intersection of 12th Street and Harrison Boulevard at 4:57 p.m. when a car pulled up and a man allegedly fired at least nine shots from a handgun, hitting Garcia several times, according to a probable cause statement.

Mauro Soto, 21, of Roy, was charged Monday in 2nd District Court with first-degree felony aggravated murder, with a sentencing enhancement of an additional five to 10 years because Soto has been convicted twice of weapon crimes. Aggravated murder itself carries potential penalties of 25 years, life without the possibility of parole, or death.

The charging documents by the Ogden Police Department alleged that Soto was in the back seat when the barrage of shots was fired at Garcia. Anthony Barela, 30, of West Haven, allegedly drove the car and the vehicle’s registered owner, a 21-year-old woman, was in the car as well, according to arrest affidavits.

Witnesses to the shooting took photos of the car and identified Soto as the shooter, according to the charges. Police said they later were able to track the path the car took after the shooting and saw that the car stopped at one point where officers later recovered a handgun that had been hidden.

In addition to the murder charge, Soto is accused of second-degree felony counts of obstruction of justice and use of a firearm by a restricted person, plus nine charges of third-degree felony discharge of a firearm.

Soto was on probation for an earlier shooting, also in a place of heavy traffic in daylight hours. At 28th Street and Washington Boulevard on Sept. 16, 2020, Soto chased a car carrying his pregnant ex-girlfriend and shot 14 times into the vehicle, missing the woman and a man who was driving.

Barela, according to the arrest affidavit against him, was identified by witnesses as the driver of the car in the Jan. 17 shooting. “Anthony Barela provided flight from the scene of the crime and aided in stopping the vehicle so evidence could be disposed of after the crime,” the affidavit said.

The woman in the car was arrested on suspicion of obstruction of justice. The arrest affidavit said she was hiding with the two men in a motorhome on property where the car, with bullet casings inside, was found.

According to the affidavit, a person at the home asked the woman why the police were there and she allegedly responded, “You don’t want to know.”

No charges had been filed against the woman as of Tuesday and she is no longer in custody at the Weber County Jail. Soto and Barela remain held without bail.

An online obituary for Garcia said he was an Ogden native. He is survived by his partner, their infant daughter, his mother, a sister and three brothers.

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