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Brooklyn man accused of Richmond Hill killings

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Officials believe the two victims were murdered in what...

By Jennifer Warren

Police arrested a Brooklyn man in the double slaying of a Richmond Hill resident and the 14-year-old son of his girlfriend who were killed in their car near Forest Park in September, police said.

Officials believe the two victims were murdered in what was a case of mistaken identity in retribution for stealing drug money, said a detective familiar with the case.

Manuel Santos, 41, of 535 Liberty Ave. was charged with two counts of murder while in possession of drugs with intent to sell, according to the complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District.

Santos was arraigned last Thursday in federal court and held without bail, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Noah Perlman, who is prosecuting the case. If convicted, Santos could face the death penalty, he said.

Santos’ attorney, Louis Freeman, failed to return calls by press time.

On Sept. 26, Wiber Garces, 30, and his girlfriend’s son, Edguardo Bryan, 14, were pulling out of a driveway near Garces’ home at 84-29 101st Ave. when a gunman fired multiple shots directly into the car, killing both driver and passenger, said Detective Eugene Canapi, a police spokesman.

In January a confidential source told a Drug Enforcement Agency agent that Santos was allegedly responsible for the two murders and provided a detailed accounts of the weapon Santos is suspected of using, the complaint said.

The source said Santos had allegedly used a 10mm-caliber handgun in the shootings, which matched the shell casings detectives retrieved from the scene, the complaint said.

The source also gave a description of Santos’ car, a burgundy Ford Explorer with dealer plates that matched the description of the dark sport utility car seen at the site of the shootings, the complaint said.

The shell casings were also tied to a murder committed on May 15, 1999 in Brooklyn, according to the complaint.

Santos was arrested April 18 in Brooklyn after an anonymous source informed police and DEA investigators of his alleged involvement, said a detective close to the investigation.

Shortly after the killings, the roommates who had lived with Garces in his Richmond Hill home moved out, said Edmundo Auguello a next-door neighbor. Auguello also said that since they had left, the neighborhood has returned to its peaceful nature and he no longer smells marijuana at night.

Edguardo’s mother, who had lived with her son in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, also left and returned to her home in Panama a week following her son’s murder, said neighbor Millie Rogers.

Upon learning of the arrest of a suspect in Edguardo’s killing, Rogers raised her arms in the air and said, “I knew God would help.”

Rogers’ grandson, Michael, who was a friend of Edguardo remembered him for “the little stupid things he used to say. He used to bug out, used to make me laugh,” he said.

Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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