Santa Paula Times

(Above) Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Gary Prentiss listens to Sam Reeves during the press conference announcing the arrest of Joe Flores (inset photo) for the murder of his son Samuel Travis Reeves, age 15. Flores was already in Ventura County Jail on another charge and was arrested this morning for the October 11, 2003 shooting and murder of Reeves (photo by Debbie Johnson).

Santa Paula gang member arrested for murder of popular teenager

July 15, 2009
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesThe family of Samuel Travis Reeves, the popular 15-year-old boy gunned down in front of hundreds of people at an October, 2003 birthday party, believes justice is on its way to being served with the arrest Monday of a known Santa Paula gang member.The arrest of 29-year-old Joe “Joey” Flores, on the suspicion of murder, occurred at the Ventura County Jail, where he was being held on unrelated charges.According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department (VCSD) Chief Deputy Gary Prentiss additional charges related to the weapon use as well as gang enhancements are being weighed by the District Attorney’s Office.Sam had attended the party with his brothers, an event that became a melee around midnight when numerous fights broke out ... a gunshot rang out and Sam was hit once in the chest, killing the Santa Paula High School student.Dozens of family members and friends were a hushed presence at Monday’s press conference, where Prentiss said the case had become “a little difficult for all of us ... but justice is coming for the family” with the arrest of Flores who “committed a cowardly act” against “an innocent child.”When told he was being arrested for suspicion of murder with bail set at $2 million Prentiss said Flores remained silent.“Now that the whole thing is over, the wishing, all our prayers are answered,” Sam Reeves said emotionally as his wife Diane and sons stood nearby.Reeves said “It’s only something the parent of a murdered child” can experience, the “bittersweet” realization that the child’s murderer has been caught that at the same time “reminds us that nothing will bring our Sam back.”Reeves said Flores is a “coward” who murdered an “innocent child ... Flores will no longer be able to hide under a slimy rock; he now is in the bright lights of justice.”Two others - who belong to the same gang as Flores - were tried and acquitted of charges related to Sam’s death, and thereafter the case went cold.Prentiss said the two defendants had also pulled weapons at the party.
“The way the case transpired” was the heavily advertised birthday party drew hundreds of teenagers and young adults including gang members ... when fistfights broke out witnesses saw three people pull guns.Witness cooperation and the discovery of blood flecks found on Sam matched Flores’ DNA: “If you can imagine” when so many people are involved in a fight then gunfire erupts the scene became chaotic and for some witnesses an intimidating situation.“Time helps” to ease the fear of witnesses who saw the shooting.Sam, added Prentiss, was not involved in a fight but rather was attempting to break it up when he was killed.Reeves thanked those VCSD detectives who worked the case especially “The pit bull,” Detective Dave Brantley and Sgt. Billy Hester who started reworking the case in earnest early this year.An arrest by Santa Paula Police of a shooting suspect, a gang associate of Flores, provided threads of information that “Crossed into our investigation,” said SPPD Sgt. Ishmael Cordero, who attended the press conference.Sam, said his father, played in a band named Fallen Angels and his appeal as a friend was legendary.The family is seeking “Bittersweet justice and closure” and is relieved “that coward (Flores) will be removed from society” and away from potential innocent victims.Sam said his son will never be forgotten and remains well loved: “I can’t go up to the cemetery even today without finding at least one or two people sitting on Sam’s bench” visiting with their friend known for his outgoing personality.