KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office upgraded charges Wednesday against the two suspects accused of shooting nine people, four fatally, at a Kansas City, Kansas, bar in October.
Hugo Villanueva-Morales, 30, and Javier Alatorre, 24, who are jailed in Wyandotte County, now each face one count of capital murder in connection with the Oct. 6 shooting at Tequila KC Bar. They had originally been charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree said Wednesday that the capital murder charge covers all four victims who were killed in the shooting.
In addition, Dupree said the amended charges against Villanueva-Morales and Alatorre also include one count of attempted murder; six counts of aggravated battery; one count of aggravated assault; and one count of criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
In all, the two suspects now face 10 charges each in Wyandotte County. Both men are being held on $1 million bonds.
The decision to charge the two suspects with capital murder now allows prosecutors to consider the death penalty in their cases. Dupree said that his office will have seven days after Villanueva-Morales and Alatorre are arraigned on the new charges to announce his decision regarding the death penalty.
"This is something that I do not take lightly, and that I will speak to all of the family members more about," Dupree said at a news conference.
Jose Valdez, a bartender at Tequila KC who was working on the night of the shooting, told 41 Action News he would support the efforts to seek the death penalty.
“He came into a bar and killed four people, wounded several others. I mean, who does that?" Valdez said. "He shouldn’t get away with that. Nobody should be able to get away with that."
Alfredo Calderon, 29; Everado Meza, 29; Francisco Garcia Anaya, 34; and Martin Rodriguez-Gonzalez, 58, were killed in the shooting. Five other victims were found outside the bar with gunshot wounds.
Following the announcement on Wednesday, Calderon’s father-in-law voiced support of the district attorney’s decision.
“The death penalty is justified for the crime that they did,” Zachery Ontiveros said. “I don’t think they deserve to live. They destroyed hundreds, maybe thousands, of lives.”
For Ontiveros and other family members, the aftermath of the tragedy can be felt every day.
The father-in-law told 41 Action News the focus has been on caring for Calderon’s two children.
“I think for a lot of us, we lost part of our hearts that night,” he said. “We’ve not gotten over it nor will we ever get over it. The holidays were pretty rough for us.”
With the death penalty now being pursued against the two suspects, Ontiveros said he planned on attending future hearings in their trials.
“It’s going to get harder going to court,” he said. “Probably the hardest thing is to see these two guys in the courtroom that took our son-in-law’s life.”
In Kansas, one of seven aggravating factors must be met in order to seek a death sentence against a suspect. One of those factors is intentional and premeditated killing of more than one person as part of the same act.
On Wednesday, Dupree also said he hopes the new charges against the suspects can help the victims' families and community heal.
"We will get through this tragedy together," Dupree said. "We will continue to move forward together in unity in the pursuit of justice and for the betterment of all of our neighborhoods."
Villanueva-Morales evaded authorities for more than two months before being taken into custody in Mexico on Dec. 12. According to court filings, investigators believe he boarded a Greyhound bus to Dallas just hours after the deadly shooting, and police in Texas missed the arrival of the bus by 15 minutes.
Alatorre was taken into custody shortly after the shooting, which police said might have been motivated by an earlier dispute at the bar.
One of the men, identified by a Tequila KC bartender as Villanueva-Morales, was involved in a disturbance and kicked out of the bar about two hours before the deadly shooting. He left before officers responded to the disturbance.