STOCKTON, Calif. — It was early in the morning during the late summer in Stockton. Back then, in 2002, the crime happened in an area known to law enforcement as a higher crime neighborhood, especially between rival gangs.
A quick trip to a convenience store, Quik Stop on Freemont Street, turned deadly for a young couple.
"Within moments of arriving they were gunned down by two different assailants," said Detective Patrick High with the Stockton Police Department.
April Weber died next to the payphone she was trying to use. Patrick Garza died at the hospital.
"They were targets because they were simply there at the wrong place at the wrong time," Detective High said.
Detective High picked up the 2002 cold case binder in 2019 and he's been working leads ever since. High found through his casework, Garza and Weber were in trouble with narcotics.
Video released to ABC10 shows the people of interest in the killings of Garza and Weber. You can't see their faces and no witnesses came forward to identify them.
"In 2002, the detectives had a lot going against them," High explained. "Large number of crimes in the area."
High believes the men seen in the surveillance video are also responsible for another cold case homicide that happened nearby, a few months prior. Ballistic evidence did link it to a homicide that happened at Court and May Street in June 2002, where a man was gunned down.
Two guns were used in the crime, according to High. One of them linked to the Quik Stop Killings.
The key piece of evidence, spotted by a patrol officer on scene at the Quik Stop that night, was a bottle of beer spilled over.
"It had been knocked over, the only bottle in the parking lot, still cold to the touch, and the liquid was still foaming that indicated to him that the bottle had recently got there," High said.
The bottle was swabbed for DNA back in 2002 and High recently submitted the sample to the Federal Department of Justice Crime Lab and received a match.
"I don't know definitively if that person is the suspect but his name was never mentioned in the original reports and certainly has the gang affiliation," High said.
High would not release the man's name for risk of jeopardizing the investigation.
Ed Rodriguez, now with the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office, was one of the responding officers on the case. He broke the news to Weber's mother that she was killed.
"I spent a lot of time with Patrick's mother Sara and April's mother Rosa and they took it hard. I speak with Sara off and on. They are both great people. They understand their kids had issues but they conveyed to me the good things their kids had," Rodriguez said.
Garza's mother, Sara Fine, shared more about her son and her fight for justice.
"The pain in always in your heart. The loss. His smile and laughter. You miss it all. You still hear it. And I hear his voice we just had to move forward," Fine said.
Given all the work done in 2002 and the recent DNA discovery made by Detective High, this case could be solved very soon.
It's a relief for Fine who has never stopped fighting for the capture of her son and her son's girlfriend's killer.
"I think we are closer today to making an arrest than we were 19 years ago and I'm hopeful that in the coming months we can close out this case," High said.