CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — Jealousy may have been at the center of a deadly shooting outside a Central Falls barbershop in September, Target 12 has learned.
Detectives in Central Falls say Emmanuel Torres Plaza was in a “romantic relationship” with Luis Lopez’s ex-wife, who expressed serious concerns about both her and Torres Plaza’s safety.
“She stated that Luis has threatened her in the past that he would kill Emmanuel and her,” police wrote in an affidavit obtained by Target 12.
Detectives wrote they discovered in June that a family court judge had issued a three-year restraining order against Lopez. The court also required Lopez to surrender any firearms.
Beyond that, police said in the court filing that Lopez had been recently released from prison after serving 15 years after a manslaughter conviction for his role in a 2007 homicide in Foxboro.
“Given these circumstances, Luis is not legally eligible to own or possess firearms,” the police affidavit stated.
Police quoted the restraining order in the affidavit, which revealed Lopez allegedly used a rifle to threaten his ex-wife.
“He had a rifle and he said it has my name on it. He pointed the rifle at me and cocked it,” the restraining order said.
Police found a ghost gun, a 9mm Glock with a magazine and ammunition, and a loaded extended magazine in a search of Lopez’s Pawtucket apartment the day after Torres Plaza’s murder. A search of Lopez’s car that same day revealed numerous weapons, including a stolen pistol from Georgia, various live bullets, an AK-47 with associated magazines, a roll of duct tape, and a copy of the restraining order against him.
The two magazines each contained roughly two dozen 9mm bullets, according to a search warrant filed in Lopez’s case.
“This is a significant finding, given the fact that these magazines have the capabilities of holding 33 rounds each. Therefore, the amount of shell casings located at the scene, approximately 17, is the total amount of bullets missing from both recovered partially loaded extended magazines,” the affidavit stated.
Evidence photos from a nearby business’s surveillance video were part of the court-authorized search warrants, showing some of the weapons found in Lopez’s bedroom and vehicle.
Police also found a GPS tracking device and four phones between Lopez’s car and apartment, which prompted another round of search warrants to glean information from the technology.
A police affidavit states one of the phones contained evidence that Lopez typed the address of a Centrals Falls home adjacent to the victim’s home into the device’s map. A detective called the finding “significant.”
“Individuals who are involved in a criminal act, such as murder, often will methodically plan it out,” Central Falls Detective Kerry Craig wrote in the affidavit. “Part of this plan frequently includes conducting surveillance on a person or persons, in order to effectively carry out the commission of this offense.”
Police said surveillance video from the parking lot where Lopez is accused of gunning down the victim showed him waiting there “for approximately an hour.”
Detectives believe the surveillance, planning, and relationship the men and woman shared “reveals an underlying motive to this criminal action.”
More still images from a nearby business’s surveillance system were included in the search warrants, showing the suspect hiding, pointing firearms at the victim, discharging gunshots, and then fleeing from the scene.
“Depicted on video is an individual wearing all black with body armor on crouched down behind a vehicle, which is adjacent to the victim’s vehicle,” the affidavit stated.
Police said the video shows the gunman holding one firearm in each hand, then shooting at Torres Plaza, who falls to the ground. Once he’s on the ground, police say the video shows the suspect shooting at Torres Plaza again before speeding away in a green Honda Element.
Lopez was ultimately caught and detained by police in Plainville after he was seen in the vicinity of a car matching the description of the one seen in Central Falls, which was on fire.
A police affidavit showed when Plainville police searched a backpack Lopez had on him, it contained two 9mm pistols with partially loaded extended magazines, one fully loaded magazine, a bulletproof vest, a ski mask, gloves, and license plates.
The next day, Lopez was extradited to Rhode Island and arraigned on more than two dozen felony charges, including murder. No plea was entered in court, and he was held without bail.
Lopez is scheduled to appear in court for a status conference this Friday.
His attorney did not immediately respond to an email for comment.