Mother charged in roadblock shooting case
RIALTO SHOOTING: Police believe that Debra Molina helped her son by destroying evidence.
10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, August 16, 2006
An Army sergeant and father of a Rialto boy charged with shooting two people at a makeshift roadblock said Wednesday his son is a good person who was raised with respect by him and his wife, a San Bernardino County Probation Department employee.
"Maybe somebody else did the shooting and him and his friend got snagged into whatever," Alvin Molina, 47, said of his 16-year-old son, also named Alvin. He said his son was in bed when the crime occurred. "I don't know how he got crossed up in the mess he's in but it's definitely not in his character to do that."
Rialto police have said two boys set up an elaborate roadblock to snare motorists at a freeway overpass early Friday morning, using orange cones, rope and construction signs to block the roadway. Two motorists were wounded by gunfire. Police set up a surveillance and arrested Alvin Molina and friend Steve Torres, 17, the next morning.
The boys have pleaded not guilty to two counts each of attempted murder. They are being tried as adults and, if convicted, they could face life in prison.
A judge signed an arrest warrant for Molina's mother, Debra Molina, 51, charging her with accessory after the fact. Prosecutors accused her of trying to destroy evidence by washing clothing authorities say her son had been wearing during the shooting. Rialto police arrested her early Wednesday and took her to West Valley Detention Center.
Now, the elder Molina, a 30-year military veteran, is struggling to cope with the events of the past several days. His son is in Juvenile Hall and his wife, who suffered a brain aneurysm last year, was also behind bars.
"She's in a jail right now without any of her medications," Alvin Molina, who completed a 16-month tour in Afghanistan, said Wednesday afternoon. "She's got a bond for $50,000. As soon as I can raise $5,000, I guess I can get her out. I'm only laughing so I don't cry. I work very hard. I've been out to serve my country on several occasions."
Molina described his wife as a good person who has cried every day since her son's arrest. She worked the night shift while he was away on duty, he said, and they hired a baby sitter to watch Alvin and his 9-year-old brother.
"She would be here during the day for the boys and take them to school. She was the mom and dad a lot," he said.
Michelle Scray, San Bernardino County deputy chief probation officer, said Debra Molina has been placed on leave pending a personnel investigation. Scray said she could not comment further.
Torres' parents and his 16-year-old fiancée have declined to speak to the charges against Torres. His mother has said the boys are longtime friends and described Torres as a fan of all-terrain vehicles and as someone who spoils his 3-month-old daughter.
The younger Alvin Molina has worked for a year at Family Land clothing store in Rialto, where a manager said he is a good employee.
"He's a great guy, very courteous, polite, very responsible for his age," said Fabiola Beltran. She said Molina likes to go snowboarding, ride bicycles and hang out with his friends. He often repaired small bicycles, she said.
Rialto police arrested the boys at Molina's home early Saturday, a day after Mary Perez Ortega, 52, and Alex Martinez, 24, were wounded when they slowed for the makeshift checkpoint at Cactus Avenue and the Interstate 210 overpass.
Ortega was hit in the neck by bullet fragments and Martinez was hit three times in the arm. Neither could be reached for comment.
Police took evidence from the Molina home, including clothes, shoes and a 9mm gun belonging to the elder Alvin Molina that was stored in his nightstand. The gun did not appear to have been disturbed, he said. Police have said they do not know whether the weapon was used in the shooting.
The younger Molina, who attends Eisenhower High School, recently returned from a weeklong trip to Hawaii with a group that organizes trips for dependents of soldiers who have been deployed. The organizers were impressed by Alvin and said he showed leadership skills, his father said.
"He's been a good son for me," Alvin Molina said.
Reach Lisa O'Neill Hill at 951-368-9462 or loneillhill@PE.com