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Authorities: 2 men charged, 1 still on the loose, after torturing, shooting in Washington County

June 18, 2019 09:03 AM

A St. Paul man is facing two felony-level charges after authorities say he shot and wounded a woman he had held against her will earlier this month in Washington County. 

Luis Alfredo Cortez Mendoza, 23, of St. Paul has been charged with one count of felony-level aiding and abetting/second-degree attempted murder and one count of felony-level aiding and abetting kidnapping to commit great bodily harm/terrorize for the benefit of a gang, according to the criminal complaint.

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Mendoza faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison if convicted. A release from the Washington County Attorney's Office Monday afternoon stated bail has been set at $2 million. 

According to the criminal complaint, at 2:38 a.m. on June 9, officers responded to a call reporting a woman had been found on the road bleeding from a gunshot wound in the area of St. Croix Trail North and 124th Street North in Stillwater. 

An Uber driver reportedly found the woman in the road after dropping off a customer in the area. He stated in the complaint that he first assumed the woman was a "dead animal in the street." 

Once he realized it was not a dead animal, he parked the vehicle and asked if she needed help. The woman screamed she had been shot and the driver then attempted to call 911 "several times" but was unable to connect, due to lack of a cellphone signal. The complaint goes on to say the driver picked the woman up, put a blanket around her and put her in the back of his vehicle. 

Eventually, he was able to contact authorities and flag them down to his location using his horn and emergency lights.

He later led responding officers to the area where she was found lying on the ground. There, authorities say they saw a large pool of blood along with the woman's headphones.

RELATED: Woman sustains gunshot wound in Washington County

The woman was reported to have "blood-soaked" clothes. Authorities say they located a bullet wound in her right breast and what appeared to be an exit wound in the upper center of her back. The woman was transported to Regions Hospital and was last known to be in critical condition. 

According to the complaint, she underwent surgery and was able to provide a statement to police after "several days and several attempts." 

She stated the following:

A female friend had introduced the woman to Angel Ignacio Sardina-Padilla, 32, also known as "Diablo." The woman stated in the complaint that Padilla was a member of the Surenos 13 gang and a meth dealer.

On June 8, the woman purchased a firearm for $400 from Padilla. Padilla and Mendoza, who is also mentioned as an alleged member of the gang, delivered the gun to her residence in St. Paul. The woman allegedly paid Padilla $300 of the $400 she owed him and told him to "come back for the rest later."

Later that night, the woman's roommate and another man were in the residence. The woman stated she had placed the gun in her nightstand, but when she awoke it was missing. The morning of June 8, the woman sent a text to Padilla explaining the gun was missing. 

According to the complaint, Padilla and Mendoza showed up later that morning to the woman's address armed with guns and demanded the money she owed or she find the gun and return it to them. One of the woman's roommates and three other people were also at the apartment at the time.

The complaint states Padilla and Mendoza "walked around the apartment brandishing their firearms while angrily demanding their money."

At some point during the incident, Padilla found a metal tool and heated it over an open flame on the stove. Padilla then made two of the individuals in the apartment hold the scalding metal while he demanded to know who had the gun. All of the witnesses involved reported Mendoza was the driver of the light blue Audi TT that he and Padilla drove to the residence. 

Padilla was also reported to be "in charge," and it was alleged that Mendoza would "do anything Padilla asked him to," according to the complaint.

The complaint goes on to say that at some point during the several hours they held the woman and her friends captive, Padilla demanded the woman hold the scalding metal tool, but she refused. Padilla then ordered the woman to leave with him and Mendoza.

The woman reportedly said she was forced to sit in the back of the car that was missing its back seat. She told police she was scared they would hurt or torture her so she felt she had no choice but to enter the vehicle. 

Mendoza and Padilla then allegedly drove around all day and into the night with the woman being held captive in the car. The complaint states as the evening progressed, she eventually asked if she could go home. 

Padilla then told Mendoza to take her, as he stayed behind at one of the last stops while Mendoza drove off with the woman. At that point, the woman told authorities she knew Mendoza was going to kill her.

Earlier in the evening, Padilla and Mendoza had allegedly given her a pill that made her fall asleep. When she awoke to darkness, she alleged Mendoza told her to get out of the vehicle. The woman reportedly stood a car-length's distance away as Mendoza fired three shots, striking her once in the chest. 

He then jumped in his car and fled the area.

RELATED: Sources: Uber driver saved woman found shot, bleeding on dirt road near Stillwater

Officers were able to identify Padilla and Mendoza through witness statements and various open-source searches, according to the complaint. 

On Saturday, Mendoza was arrested by the Minneapolis Police Department while driving his Audi TT. Padilla remains on the run, and a nationwide warrant has been issued for his arrest. He faces the same charges as Mendoza.

Under Miranda, Mendoza allegedly admitted the following to police: He and Padilla were both members of the gang Surenos 13, and he considered them "brothers." He went on to say Padilla ordered him to shoot and kill the victim and gave him the gun to do it. Mendoza reportedly stated he contemplated whether to go through with the killing.

He allegedly added he was afraid that if he did not go through with it, he would be killed himself. While wearing rubber gloves, he reportedly admitted shooting the victim. He later returned the gun to Padilla. 

According to the complaint, his light blue Audi TT was painted black "a couple days later," at Padilla's direction. After the incident, Padilla and the Surenos 13 gang branded Mendoza with a tattoo of "13."

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Tommy Wiita

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