BLAINE - The driver in a gang-related shooting at a peanut roasting factory in Blaine pleaded guilty Thursday, May 2, to complicity to felony assault.
Rogelio "Cuete" Fernando Solano, 22, admitted he and his cohorts planned to hurt a rival gang member - but not by shooting him - Dec. 4, 2011, when he drove three men to the Golden Nut Company, 1555 Odell Road, said Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Mac Setter.
That day, Fernando Solano, a self-professed member of the Brown Pride Surenos, threatened revenge on one of his coworkers, Joe Anthony Guevara-Medina, of the 18th Street gang, according to charging documents filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.
At 6:30 p.m., as he ended his 12-hour shift, Guevara-Medina noticed the passenger-side tires of his car had been slashed. He called his mother for a ride.
Then an old pickup rolled around the corner. Guevara-Medina heard a door swing open. A gunshot rang out. He looked down to see blood flowing from his chest. Co-workers called 911.
Four men were in the pickup: Fernando Solano; Adrian Arturo "Bowser" Montelongo, 21; Jose Luis "Joker" Santos, 22; and Steve "Silencer" Ibarra, 18, according to charging documents.
Prosecutors are now focusing on Ibarra as the likeliest one to have pulled the trigger, but he has not been formally charged. He's serving a sentence of three years and 10 months in prison for another shooting, when he intimidated a rival gang member's uncle by aiming a shotgun at him in Bellingham.
Montelongo and Santos are awaiting trial.
Fernando Solano pleaded guilty to helping to slash the tires and assisting in a third-degree assault on Guevara-Medina - a crime far less serious than the attempted murder charge prosecutors leveled against him in December 2011.
In a separate case, he entered a guilty plea Thursday to causing thousands of dollars in damage by spraying gang graffiti around the city of Bellingham.
After the court hearing, he was transferred from Whatcom County Jail to federal custody. He has already served more than his full sentence of 21 months for the crimes, but one of his defense attorneys noted a felony conviction may throw his immigration status into question.
Fernando Solano had no felony history.