CHELSEA – The gunfire that ended a man’s life on Blossom Street here Tuesday night was the result of an ongoing feud between two gangs known as MS-13 and 18th Street, officials said today.
The gang connection for the shooting is based partly on a tape recorded confession by the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Manuel Castro, who was arrested by State Police and Chelsea police just hours after the violence erupted around 9 p.m. Tuesday, officials said.
Castro was originally identified today by authorities as Jonathan Castro Sala, but further investigation confirmed his identity as Castro, officials said.
Castro was arraigned in Chelsea District Court today where he pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder and was ordered held without bail. According to officials, Castro is a native of El Salvador who is in the United States illegally.
In court, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Mark Zanini said that Castro confessed to the shooting, identified himself as a member of the 18th Street gang, and said he shot the victim because he believed he was a member of MS-13.
The victim was identified as 21-year-old Elder Morales, who was shot in the back and the head while sitting with a friend on the front porch of the home at 52 Blossom St., Zanini said in court.
According to prosecutors, Castro was among a group of five people who walked down Blossom street, ran up to the home where Morales was sitting and after a brief verbal exchange, Castro allegedly opened fire with a revolver.
Morales was struck in the chest and the back of the head. He was rushed to Whidden Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead, officials said.
Castro’s defense attorney, Frances Robinson, did not challenge the judge’s order that her client be held without bail.
Authorities are asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact Chelsea police at 617-466-4811 or State Police assigned to Conley’s office at 617-727-8817. Anonymous tips can be left at the Chelsea Police CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 617-466-4880 or through ChelseaPolice.com.