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Arrests made in murders of Montgomery County teens

Shadi Najjar (L) & Artem Ziberov (R).

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD. — Montgomery County Police announced late Saturday night that they had made three arrests in connection with the murders of two Northwest High School teens who were killed a day before their graduation.

Edgar Garcia-Gaona, 24, of Gaithersburg, Md., Roger Garcia, 19, of Germantown, Md., and Jose Ovilson Canales-Yanez, 25, of Gaithersburg, Md. were arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of Shadi Adi Najjar, 17, and Artem S. Ziberov, 18.

Edgar Garcia-Gaona.

Jose Canales-Yanez.

Roger Garcia.

Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said that a friend of Najjar’s had told police that Najjar was rumored to have stolen drugs from a woman during a drug transaction in December 2016 or January 2017.

That same friend also told police that Najjar had texted him the night he was killed and said he was planning to sell a ticket to the next day’s graduation to Roger Garcia. The text was sent less than an hour before his death.

Manger added that Garcia’s brother, Ed Garcia-Gaona, “was shot on February 10, 2017 during a botched drug deal, also in Montgomery Village”. Police said he reportedly had a gun and exchanged fire with his assailants.

Finally, Manger said Garcia-Gaona had a friend named Jose Canales-Yanez, and Canales-Yanez was the boyfriend, and now possibly husband, of Kara Yanez. Police believed Yanez was the victim of the robbery they said Najjar committed.

Yanez filed a police report on December 14, 2016 and claimed “she was approached by a blue Honda Civic while she was walking, and a front-seat passenger grabbed her Apple iPad. She was dragged by the car for approximately 50 feet.”

Manger said police believe the motive for the shooting was retaliation for Najjar’s robbery. What police are unclear of is if there was a motive for killing Ziberov or if it was as a result of being with Najjar at the time.

Manger added that the investigation into the murders is ongoing and they are still asking for witnesses to come forward.

“Although detectives have made these three arrests, this by no means should be interpreted that the investigation has concluded,” said Manger. “These most recent developments are the result of the community taking an active role in this investigation. It is believed that, considering the progress made over the past 36 hours, there are additional sources of information who have yet to come forward.”