Suspected crime ring leader accused shooting near Knitting Factory

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by HAYLEY GUENTHNER & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on March 14, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 7:23 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- A man identified as one of the suspected ring leaders of the criminal enterprise brought down in a law enforcement sweep this week is also facing charges in a shooting near the Knitting Factory last year.

WATCH: Gang sweep rounds up 29 suspects, 10 more wanted

Multiple search warrants were executed and dozens of people were arrested across Spokane County Thursday morning.  The Spokane Violent Crime and Gang Enforcement Team (S.V.C.G.E.T.) said the efforts disrupted a "large-scale criminal enterprise," believed to have been involved in drug trafficking. Warrants were served in Washington, Idaho and Nevada.

Authorities said Stafone N. Fuentes, 29, was not only implicated in the crime ring, but is also a suspect in several murders. Spokane police announced Friday that they were seeking charges against Fuentes in a shooting near the Knitting Factory in Downtown Spokane in Feb. 2013.  The shooting, which detectives believed to be gang-related, left two people seriously injured.

WATCH: Two shot outside Knitting Factory, two more shot at Spokane after party

According to authorities, an informant told detectives Fuentes admitted to shooting a man near the Knitting Factory and was "laughing about it."

In court Friday, the defense said the informant was paid and the victim never positively identified him.

Major Crimes Detectives said in court documents that they believe Fuentes was involved in the 2010 murder of Nathan Gilstrap. A year later, he was tied to the murder of Jose Solis Jr.  Solis was killed at the Quality Inn in 2011. Fuentes was arrested but acquitted in 2012 for that murder.

Sources close to Fuentes said he is also being investigated for another deadly shooting that occurred in September at ‘The Hop.’ Fuentes’ cousin Carlos Fuentes is awaiting trial in that case.

Officials have never named him as a suspect in ‘The Hop’ shooting.

KREM 2 News spoke to Fuentes back in 2013 when documents were unsealed in the Gilstrap murder case that spelt out in suspected involvement. He denied any wrongdoing saying he was working very hard to get his life on the right track.

Knitting Factory COO Greg Marchant said in a release on Friday that it was one of their guests who was a victim of the shooting off the premises.

The shooting caused a temporary closure of the Knitting Factory. The club was promptly reopened.

Marchant released a statement Friday. It stated:

“The original incident was wrongfully harmful to our reputation, which management, law enforcement, government and the public has worked with us to rebuild. Police Chief Straub has referred to us as a model partner and we’re dedicated to a safe environment for all our guests.  There’s never been a shooting on our premises.”

Detectives requested two counts of Attempted First Degree Murder against Fuentes.  He was expected to be in court Friday afternoon.  One count of Conspiracy to Commit Attempted First Degree Murder was also requested for Cierra C. White, 19, in connection with the shooting.

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