School Teacher and Students Charged with Gang-Related Crimes

For Immediate Release
May 29th, 2002
Contact: Tori Richards: (714) 347-8405
OPD Sgt. Dave Hill: (714) 744-7479

School Teacher and Students Charged with Gang-Related Crimes

EDITOR’S NOTE: Booking photos available

SANTA ANA — A Portola Middle School teacher and two high school students have been charged with gang-related crimes in connection with threatening another student with a replica gun. A third suspect, who is also a student, has pleaded guilty.

During the afternoon of April 26, one of the defendants, aged 14, got into an argument with a 19-year-old neighbor. The argument escalated into a fistfight and the defendant brandished a knife. A 17-year-old friend of the victim was also present and tried to stop the fight. The fight ended without any injuries and the suspect left the scene.

Twenty minutes later, the defendant returned in a car with two friends who are fellow students at Orange High School: Jose Salamanca (DOB 9-28-83) and Jorge Medina (DOB 2-8-84). The driver of the car was Portola English teacher Ronald Cummings, (DOB 7-19-63). Cummings stayed in the car while the three passengers got out and confronted the victim’s friend, who was standing outside with a different friend. One of the defendants threatened to kill the victim’s friend if he didn’t bring the victim outside. The defendants retrieved a replica handgun from the car and Salamanca pointed it at the victim’s friend and ordered him to get the victim or die.

The friend went into the victim’s home and called police. The suspects left before police arrived, but were able to obtain the identity of Cummings.

Police obtained a search warrant for an apartment that Cummings shares with Salamanca.  About 3 a.m. the following morning, Orange police arrived at the apartment and arrested all the suspects as they left the apartment at different times. A search of the home yielded the replica gun and gang-related paraphernalia.

Cummings was released and re-arrested on May 10 when his case was filed. He has been charged with the following gang-related crimes: felony terrorist threats; felony exhibiting an imitation firearm in a threatening manner; felony contributing to the delinquency of a minor. If convicted, he faces a maximum of eight years, four months in prison.  Cummings has posted $50,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on June 10.

Salamanca and Medina are charged with the following felony gang-related crimes: terrorist threats; brandishing a replica gun; and being an active participant in a criminal street gang. They face a maximum of eight years, 4 months in prison and have pleaded not guilty to the crimes. Both are still in custody and are scheduled to appear in court on Friday for a pretrial. Their bail is $25,000 each.

The 14-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to a gang-related felony terrorist threat charge and was sentenced to 60 days in jail with gang-related probation terms. If he violates probation, he could face an additional seven years in prison.