When the reports first started rolling out Friday that two men had pulled guns and shot each other to death during a dispute at Toys R Us in Palm Desert, many wondered aloud and to themselves "who takes a gun with them while shopping for Christmas gifts?" The two most obvious answers were A) cops and B) criminals.
Juan Meza, 28, of Cathedral City sported a tattoo that read "VMV," indicating that he belonged to an Indio-area gang called Varrio Mecca Vineyards, said Riverside County District Attorney's Office spokesman Michael Jeandron.
Meza and Alejandro Moreno, 39, of Desert Hot Springs, died in the late-morning shooting inside the store on Highway 111 and Fred Waring Drive on Friday.
According to court records, Meza pleaded guilty in March to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He pleaded guilty to the same charge in November 2007.
In September 2005, Meza pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon, and in 2002, he pleaded guilty to possessing a controlled substance for sale while armed, according to court records.
Records show that Moreno had a criminal record spanning back to 1998, when he pleaded guilty to inflicting corporal injury on a spouse. As part of the plea deal, charges of assault with a deadly weapon, criminal threats and willfully harming a child were dismissed.