Editor's note: KTVB has chosen not to name the specific gangs involved in an effort to minimize the publicity and reach of those groups.
CALDWELL -- A Nampa man accused of shooting a rival gang member in the head may have been motivated by something as minor as a colored rag in the victim's pocket, investigators say.
Francisco Gerardo Ramirez, 18, faces charges of aggravated battery, unlawful discharge of a firearm, destruction of evidence and a gang enhancement in connection to the Sept. 6 incident.
Police learned about the shooting after the victim, a 22-year-old Ontario man, was brought into St. Luke's in Nampa with a gunshot wound. Emergency room personnel removed one bullet from the base of the man's skull.
The victim, identified in court documents as D.B., said the conflict began when he was sitting in his car with his girlfriend outside a Nampa laundromat. He said he saw a young man wearing red shorts - later identified as Ramirez - leaving a nearby barbershop and staring at him.
D.B. told police he asked the other man if there was a problem, and Ramirez said no. But when the victim drove out of the parking lot, Ramirez got in his own car and began closely following him, according to court documents.
D.B. said he dropped his girlfriend off at her home, then tried to quickly drive away. Ramirez continued to follow him, the victim said, then pulled his car in front of the 22-year-old's vehicle, forcing him to stop.
According to court documents, Ramirez then confronted the other man.
"What's up? I see you're set tripping. This is [gang's territory.] I see the blue flag," the suspect said, according to the victim's statements to police.
Police say D.B. is a member of a Ontario-based gang, and wears a blue bandanna in his left pocket to show his affiliation. D.B. told investigators he was carrying the bandanna, but had not done anything else to provoke the other man. D.B. also said he did not know Ramirez and had no previous quarrel with him.
Ramirez is believed to be a member of a rival group that uses the color red to show affiliation.
According to court documents, D.B. again tried to drive away from Ramirez, but the other man continued to follow him. As he turned onto Mud Springs Avenue from Blue Springs Street in an attempt to lose the other driver, the victim said he heard a shot and felt a bullet hit him in the back of the head. D.B. said he ducked down in the seat as more bullets hit the car from behind.
The injured man drove back to Ustick Road, and turned west as Ramirez turned east, police say.
Investigators found two bullet holes in the driver's side headrest of D.B.'s car, as well as bullet holes in the instrument panel, back dash and roof line. There was also a large amount of blood in and around the driver's seat, police say.
Police asked for the public's help locating the shooter and his vehicle, described as a newer-model dark gray Chevrolet Malibu with tinted windows, black custom wheels, and chrome trim.
In the days after the shooting, detectives talked to several witnesses who saw a confrontation between Ramirez and the victim outside the barbershop. Witnesses also confirmed that Ramirez drives a gray Chevrolet Malibu matching the description of the suspect vehicle.
Surveillance video obtained by police shows the Malibu following the victim's car around the time D.B. said the shooting happened.
Police went to Ramirez' home in Nampa Wednesday to talk to the suspect. When they got to the house, officers noticed a car matching the suspect vehicle description that was registered to Ramirez. The wheels had been freshly spray painted silver, but the paint was peeling off to reveal the original black color underneath, police said.
Ramirez denied having anything to do with the shooting, but told investigators that several people had mentioned to him that his car looked like the photos of the suspect vehicle released by the Caldwell Police Department. The suspect also said that the officer was the fifth or sixth person to ask him whether he had shot the victim, according to court documents.
Police say Ramirez was shaking and short of breath during the police interview. After the officers told him they knew he had confronted the victim outside the barbershop, Ramirez tried to change the subject, but did not deny the allegation, according to police.
After the officers asked if they could search him for weapons, they found a cell phone in his pocket with a screensaver photo of graffiti associated with the gang. According to the court documents, Ramirez acknowledged the graffiti and said he thought "it looked cool."
According to court documents, most of Ramirez' clothes and shoes were either red or had red trim - his gang's color - and he had two boards with gang-related graffiti displayed in his home. In addition, several of Ramirez' family members are documented members of the gang.
Police say the barbershop where Ramirez allegedly first spotted the victim is in an area of Nampa that is commonly known as territory belonging to that gang.
"As an affiliate of the [gang,] Francisco would be required and compelled to confront a rival gang member who was seen as being disrespectful of [gang] territory by displaying his gang colors in that area in order to promote and defend the reputation of the [gang,]" Caldwell Police Cpl. Scott Crupper wrote in an affidavit.
Ramirez was arrested and transported to the Canyon County Jail. Crupper wrote that as he was filling out the jail intake paperwork, Ramirez asked him about his duty handgun and whether he was good at shooting.
"I don't think it's too hard to shoot. It's Call of Duty, really," Ramirez said, according to the officer, referencing the popular first-person shooter video game.
Ramirez is currently held in the jail on a $1 million bond. He's due back in court Sept. 29 for a preliminary hearing.
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