Two men from California, Gabriel Molina, 29, and Mark Anthony Valdez, 28, were apprehended this week, accused of the murder of a 68-year-old grandfather and veteran, Michael Rangel. The incident, which took place in broad daylight, saw Rangel fatally shot while on his front lawn. Molina is facing murder charges, while Valdez has been charged with being an accessory to murder.
The Riverside Police Department, in a press statement, revealed that they responded to multiple reports of gunshots and an injured adult male outside a residence on Harmony Lane at around 3:26 p.m. on October 28. Upon arrival, first responders found Rangel and initiated lifesaving measures before transporting him to a local hospital. However, Rangel later succumbed to his injuries and was declared dead.
The investigation was taken over by detectives from the department’s Robbery – Homicide Unit and Gang Intelligence Unit, along with specialists from the Forensics Unit. Initial findings indicated that Rangel was in his front yard when he was hit by gunfire from a passing vehicle. Over the following weeks, detectives identified Molina, a Riverside resident, as the shooting suspect. Valdez was also implicated in the shooting and subsequently arrested.
Both men were detained at the Robert Presley Detention Center. Molina is being held on a $1 million bond, while Valdez was released after posting a $10,000 bond. This is not Molina’s first encounter with the law. He is a convicted felon who was out on $250,000 bail for a series of armed robberies at fast food restaurants in Riverside and Moreno Valley between June and December 2022.
While out on bail, Molina reportedly fled from the police at high speed and crashed his vehicle into a business, seriously injuring his passenger and was found illegally in possession of another firearm. He was also injured in the crash and taken to a local hospital for treatment. However, he managed to escape the facility before he could be transported to jail.
Molina has been linked to at least eight fast food restaurant robberies. During each robbery, he allegedly took cash from the register, directed employees into a back office that could be locked or barricaded, then stole an employee’s car and fled the scene. During his latest arrest for Rangel’s murder, Molina was also found to be illegally in possession of a firearm.
Surveillance footage obtained by local media reportedly showed Rangel watering his lawn when a white, four-door sedan stopped on his street for just under two minutes. A man believed to be Molina is then seen opening the driver’s side door and opening fire at Rangel. Authorities have not speculated about a potential motive for the shooting but said it is believed to be gang-related.