Police probe ties between drive-by, stabbing

11:48 AM, Sep 14, 2007   |    comments
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Authorities are reviewing links between Marble's death, a July 4 drive-by shooting in Fort Collins and a 2002 stabbing in Wellington because many of the same people were present each time.

"Big Happy" Marble died in a parking lot between a pizzeria and a liquor store after being shot six times about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, according to authorities.

His friends and family, under a heavy law enforcement presence, held a funeral for him Thursday afternoon. Marble had been a Sureno or Southside gang member, and officials were worried about potential retaliation from another gang.

"People who were at the situation in July were at the situation in LaPorte," said Fort Collins police Detective Marc Neal.

Neal, a member of the city's criminal impact team, said he's been talking to self-identified gang members since Saturday regarding the shooting but is not directly involved in the investigation.

However, other law enforcement officials confirm the Sheriff's Office is investigating longstanding conflicts between Marble and the hospitalized Pedro Mercado, who is a suspect in his death.

The Larimer County Sheriff's Office has arrested two other men, Calvin Bennett and Richard William Bastian, in connection with Marble's death. The Sheriff's Office has declined to comment on motives or connections among all the men but confirm they are looking at gang links.

Authorities and friends of both Marble and Mercado say the two knew each other and had planned to meet in LaPorte to discuss an ongoing conflict between them.

Mercado's neck was slashed in the Saturday incident that left Marble dead.

Mercado's friends say Marble had threatened Mercado's teenage daughter via MySpace. Marble's friends reject that suggestion but acknowledge the two were "aware" of each other.

Mercado, who is considered a suspect but has not been arrested in connection with Marble's death, is being guarded by sheriff's deputies at Medical Center of the Rockies.

In the July shooting, a young woman was shot near the intersection of Franklin and Cherry streets, and police immediately said they suspected gang conflicts were to blame.

Two of the men arrested in that drive-by were previously charged in the stabbing at a convenience store in Wellington in 2002. At the time, Fort Collins police said both suspects, the victim and her associates had gang connections.

"I think it's fair to say that they have had gang-related ties for a long time," Fort Collins Sgt. Paul Wood said in July.

Marble served four years in prison in connection with a gang-related stabbing in Fort Collins in 2002.

According to police, Marble stabbed a 17-year-old because a group of rival gang members had smashed up the car in which Marble was riding.

(Copyright Associated Press, All Rights Reserved)

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