A vigil was held at the home where Edgar Najera lived at 250 W. Walnut Lane. [Photo by Ashley Bunton / Moab Sun News]

Note: This article was updated on Nov. 1 with new information.

Three suspects, Irving Martin Veruzco Armenta, Jaime Flores Solis and Jorge Hernandez are now in police custody after a 100-mile pursuit through Arizona on Oct. 31 in connection with the homicide of Moab resident Edgar Najera on Oct. 28. 

Moab City Police Department said in a press release on Nov. 1 that the three men were arrested by the Navajo Nation Police Department’s Tuba City and Kayenta districts and the Arizona Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol Division. 

Police had been seeking tips and information on Armenta’s whereabouts since Oct. 28. In addition to Armenta’s arrest, police said Moab residents Jaime Flores Solis and Jorge Hernandez were taken into custody on multiple charges and believe both men are involved in Najera’s homicide and the effort to conceal and transport Armenta after the homicide occurred. 

Edgar Luna Najera, 30, known by many in the Moab community as “Rojo,” died on Oct. 28 after a fight turned deadly at his residence at 250 W. Walnut Lane, according to authorities.

Moab City Police Chief Jim Winder said people fled the scene before police arrived.

At about 8 p.m. on Oct. 31, a Navajo Nation police officer responded to a report of three men acting suspiciously and pursued Armenta, Solis and Hernandez before losing sight of their vehicle on a dirt road near Tuba City. 

Another officer located the vehicle parked on the side of the highway and the pursuit continued for nearly 100 miles before the suspect vehicle overheated and became disabled, police said. The three men attempted to flee on foot, but two were apprehended by police in a field and a third was located in a residential area. 

The Moab City Police Department had asked the public for help in locating Irving Martin Veruzco Armenta (other names used to identify him were Martin Armenta Verduzco Lopez and the nickname Omar Guerra) and a warrant for his arrest was issued on Oct. 30. Winder said Armenta is also wanted out of Denver, Colorado, for an aggravated assault that occurred earlier this year.

Armenta is not a resident of Moab, Winder said, and had only been to the area recently, “within a matter of weeks.”

Police believed he may have headed toward the Grand Junction, Colorado area. 

Winder declined to release further details about the motive for the killing and acknowledged that it’s still being investigated by the police department with assistance from the Utah State Bureau of Investigation. 

Police said a fight was reported at about 1:30 a.m. on Sunday by a resident at one of the dozens of trailer homes around 250 W. Walnut Lane.

Najera was found deceased from what appeared to be multiple gunshot wounds, police said. 

The Utah Office of the Medical Examiner declined to comment; Tom Hudachko, public information officer, said the Utah Medical Examiner Act only allows for information to be shared with next of kin, law enforcement and treating medical providers.

Winder called the incident a tragedy for the community, and said Najera was a longtime resident of Moab. 

“This a tragedy, you have this gentleman who has lost his life violently and unnecessarily,” Winder said. 

According to a police report issued hours after the reported killing, five individuals left the scene in a black SUV that police said was soon found abandoned nearby. Four of those five individuals believed to have left in the SUV have been identified and questioned, Winder said.

“There were several individuals involved in this, and most of them are victims,” Winder said.

COMMUNITY MEMBERS RESPOND TO NAJERA’S DEATH

Rhiana Medina, executive director at the Moab Valley Multicultural Center, said Najera’s family has reached out the multicultural center for assistance in having his remains sent back to his family in Mexico.

“The Moab Valley Multicultural Center is glad to have the cooperation of the Moab City Police Department and the Mexican Consulate of Salt Lake City in assisting the family with this request,” Medina said on Oct. 30. “The staff and board of the Moab Valley Multicultural Center offer their condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Najera.”

Candles were still burning in the morning on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at an altar outside the red home where Najera lived.

Ed Nelson, the trailer home community’s property owner, had spoken at a community vigil held for Najera the previous evening.

Nelson said he knew Najera for a little more than six months in the time that Najera had resided there.

Like many people in Moab who knew him, Nelson also called him by his nickname, Rojo.

“He just had a personality that — he smiled a lot and I could kid him,” Nelson said. Nelson said Najera could be shy, but he was always friendly. “With a personality like that, why him? Why Rojo? Everybody was his friend.”

One time when Nelson was sick for two weeks, he returned to find that Najera had painted the outside of the trailer home — “Red,” Nelson said. “Red like his beard. He liked the color red.”

On other occasions, Najera would find Nelson working somewhere on the property and insisted on helping.

“A couple of weeks ago, he pulled up on his bicycle and saw me digging in the ditch and pushed me — he actually shoved me out of the way — and insisted that he do it himself,” Nelson said.

And just recently, Nelson had trimmed a tree on the property and was preparing to haul the branches away when Najera stopped him.

“He wouldn’t let me get rid of them,” Nelson said. “He liked them and he took a few and made a handrail.”

Nelson knew Najera well enough that he would sometimes scold him “for certain things,” Nelson said, “as if he was my own son.”

“Like bringing junk home,” Nelson said. “He was a collector. He loved WabiSabi. He would bring something home and I would ask him, ‘Where did you get that?’”

Najera was always looking out for the people who live in the West Walnut Lane neighborhood, Nelson said.

“The community had taken care of him just as much as he had taken care of them,” Nelson said.

West Walnut Lane resident Tonya Limas, 70, was outside cutting back wild sage in her front yard on Oct. 30.

She did not know Najera personally but called the homicide a “sad” incident for the community and also pointing out that it, and other unrelated crimes in the area, has painted the neighborhood with a “stigma.”

“They have forgotten us,” Limas said of the community’s feelings toward the neighborhood on West Walnut Lane, “and there’s never been anything said except for the bad stuff. Ed has worked, and I have helped to work, on the trailer court. I love it down here, and I would just like people to realize that not every house down here are with bad people.”

Community mourns death of Edgar ‘Rojo’ Najera

“This a tragedy, you have this gentleman who has lost his life violently and unnecessarily.”