$3 million bond for man charged in death of former Top Model contestant

$3 million bond for man charged in death of former Top Model contestant
(Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department)
(Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The second person charged with murder in connection to a triple homicide that occurred in late February appeared in a Mecklenburg County courtroom Friday.

David Ezequel Lopez, 20, was arrested Thursday and charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Jonathan Alvarado, Jusmar Isiah Gonzaga-Garcia, and Mirjana Puhar.

Less than 24 hours after his arrest, Lopez made his first court appearance. Judge Donnie Hoover said Lopez' bond was set at $3 million - a million for each life that was taken in the case.

Emmanuel Jesus Rangel, 19, was arrested on the same charges on February 25. Rangel was also charged in connection to a homicide that took place in Matthews on Sunday February 22.

On Friday, NC Senator Thom Tillis and Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Homeland Security alleging that Rangel was due to be deported after a 2012 arrest, but was approved for deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.

On Feb. 24, 23-year-old Alvarado, 22-year-old Gonzaga-Garcia and 19-year-old Puhar were found dead inside a home on Norris Avenue by officers responding to a tip from a confidential informant.

According to multiple media outlets, Mirjana Puhar was a former contestant on the show "America's Next Top Model."

Documents released by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) indicate that there was drug activity at the Norris Avenue home. The warrants also detail acts of violence that unfolded there.

Police inventoried four spent shell casings that came from a .380 caliber gun, seized a box of nine millimeter ammunition, and reported finding several bullet projectiles inside the home.

As it relates to drug activity, CMPD said they recovered a marijuana-like substance baggie as well as a brownish-red colored plastic substance. They also made note of a metal teaspoon.

Matthews police confirmed that CMPD had contacted them about a possible connection between the deadly triple shooting and the other Matthews shooting Rangel is charged with.

Lopez, who was assigned a public defender to represent him, has a bond hearing scheduled for April 1 and a probable cause hearing on April 6.

Police say the investigation is ongoing.

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