Gang connection keeps shooting suspect from getting bail

NEW PORT RICHEY — He was arrested last month on a charge of beating a stranger unconscious.

Then he was released on bail, and a week later, authorities say, David Martin Santiago shot a different stranger at a nightclub. The bullet grazed the victim's leg.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office arrested Santiago this week for aggravated battery in that latest incident. And when Santiago, a documented leader of the Valentine Bloods gang, showed up for his arraignment Thursday, an attorney from the Tampa Bay gang task force was waiting.

"He came and argued about the gang connection," sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said, "and that's why judge gave him a zero bond on this."

Santiago, 28, was cited under a statute to control gang activity that allows a judge to revoke the bond on gang members so they cannot continue to commit crimes. The judge agreed to keep Santiago at the jail without bond.

"We've got to keep him in jail," Doll said. "He's known to us and New Port Richey (police), obviously."

Santiago, of 6422 Old Main St., has previous arrests including shooting into an occupied building, fleeing from law enforcement, leaving the scene of a crash with injury and trafficking in ecstasy.

He was arrested last month on a charge of aggravated battery, one of three gang members accused of beating a 42-year-old man who was test-driving a car on Celeste Lane, where one of the gang members lived. The man suffered several facial fractures in the Nov. 25 attack.

New Port Richey police arrested Santiago on a charge of aggravated battery Dec. 10 after a witness identified him and two other gang members.

Police then also cited Santiago under the gang control statute, but a judge opted to grant him $50,000 bail. He was released Dec. 12.

A week later, Pasco County Sheriff's Office says, Santiago got into a fight with another man at Club Nocturnal, 4527 U.S. 19 in New Port Richey, over a girl. According to the sheriff's report, Santiago announced he was "a Blood" and told the man to leave, then aimed his revolver at the man's leg and pulled the trigger.

The bullet zinged through the man's pant leg and grazed his right inner thigh.

It took a few weeks for the Sheriff's Office to arrest Santiago because the victim serves in the Navy and has been out of the area, Doll said.

Deputies are still searching for a second man involved in that attack, though they have not released his identity.

Gang connection keeps shooting suspect from getting bail 01/29/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 9:20pm]

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