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2 Men Held in Las Vegas in Slaying of Local Man : Crime: Tips lead to capture of suspects at motel. Two other men are arrested for allegedly planning to avenge victim's death.

July 26, 1994|JEFF McDONALD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Tips from unidentified sources led four local homicide investigators to Las Vegas over the weekend, where they helped local police arrest two men suspected in a Ventura slaying last week.

Thomas A. Corral and Ruben A. Viveros were arrested late Sunday at a motel just off the Las Vegas Strip for the killing of 23-year-old Roger Rowland, who died Thursday morning after being shot in the abdomen, police said.

"We talked to several people, who gave us bits and pieces (of information) that led us to that location," said Ventura Police Lt. Brad Talbot. "Corral was arrested, and then they had to wait awhile before they found the other guy."

Las Vegas police also arrested Shawn L. Johnson, 21, of Ventura and Edward Englehart, 22, of Las Vegas late Saturday on charges of conspiracy to commit murder.

Police said Johnson and Englehart were planning to kill Corral to avenge Rowland's death. Several weapons, including a shotgun and an assault rifle, along with masks, gloves and bulletproof vests, were recovered at the scene of their arrest, Talbot said.

Both Corral, 23, and Viveros, 19, are known to local authorities as Ventura Avenue Gangsters and are being held without bail in Clark County Jail on suspicion of murder.

They could waive extradition and return to Ventura within days or fight the proceedings and force the governors of both states to agree to transport the suspects back to California.

Corral also is wanted in connection with the 1991 Los Angeles kidnaping of a 3-year-old boy.

Additional charges of providing false information to a police officer and illegal possession of alcohol were filed against Viveros, according to jail officials. At the time of his arrest, he lied about his identity and was in possession of alcohol, police said.

Ventura police drove to Las Vegas on Saturday and enlisted the help of the Las Vegas Metro Police gang unit in making the arrests.

On Saturday night, a group of Ventura and Las Vegas police officers staked out the apartment building of other suspected gang members when they spotted five men in a small, green car with California plates.

"The vehicle fled, and a short pursuit occurred," Talbot said. "When they left the vehicle, a shot or shots were fired, but no one was hit."

Talbot said Englehart and Johnson, who was Rowland's friend, were arrested for trying to kill Corral in revenge for his alleged killing of Rowland.

"They went to Las Vegas looking for Corral," Talbot said. "These people all know each other. They're all Avenue gangsters, so there's some sort of intra-gang problem here."

Corral and Viveros are accused of breaking into the Ventura apartment of Melinda Corona, the mother of Corral's 1-year-old child, early Thursday and shooting Rowland, who was staying with Corona.

No one answered the front door Monday at Corona's Kirk Street apartment, where a sliding glass door nearby had been pierced by a bullet and the doorknob broken.

Neighbors said they had not see Corona or the infant since the shooting.

Corral has been a fugitive since 1991, when he and a group of friends allegedly kidnaped the 3-year-old son of a woman who claimed one of Corral's friends had raped her.

The former boyfriend "orchestrated the whole kidnap from L.A. County Jail" in an attempt to dissuade the woman from testifying, said Los Angeles Police Detective Larry Hedwall.

Corral and his friends "kidnaped him down here in South-Central L.A., and one of the main players was from Ventura," Hedwall said Monday. "The boy was kept in a Ventura motel room for two days (before he was found by police)."

Hedwall said all of the other suspects in the kidnaping except Corral were arrested and convicted in the case.

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