Nebraska police arrest man for shooting 4, killing 2 at Sonic restaurant

Nov. 22 (UPI) — Police in Nebraska said officers have arrested a 23-year-old man accused for killing two people and injuring three others during a shooting at a Sonic Drive-In restaurant on Saturday night.

The Bellevue Police Department identified the suspect on Sunday as Roberto Carlos Silva, Jr., 23, stating in a release that he has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson. He was booked into the Sarpy County Jail, just outside of Omaha.

Andy Jashinske, a public information officer with the Bellevue Police Department, told reporters Sunday night during a press conference that Silva was taken into custody without incident following the Saturday shooting at the Bellevue Sonic restaurant.

Jashinske identified all five victims as employees of the restaurant, stating four of them had been shot.

Ryan Helbert, 28, and Nathan Pastrana, 22, were pronounced dead at the scene while Kenneth Gerner, 25, and Zoey Reece Atalig Lujan, 18, were transported to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for treatment, according to a separate Sunday release from the department.

Jashinske said those in hospital were listed as in critical or close to critical condition.

The fifth victim only received minor injuries and refused treatment, he said.

“We would like to offer our condolences to the family of those that are deceased, as well as our personal thoughts to those who are still in the hospital,” he said.

Police were called to the Sonic shortly before 9:30 p.m. Saturday due a possible bomb inside a U-Haul truck that was on fire in the restaurant’s parking lot. A minute later, the call was upgraded to a shooting.

Officers pulled three victims from the restaurant, two of whom were pronounced dead at the scene and discovered the fourth victim shortly after, Jashinske said.

Four weapons were found at the scene, while Silva was taken into police custody unarmed, he said, adding that they believe he also set fire to the moving truck.

“We are still investigating this matter of the U-Haul truck but we do believe the U-Haul truck was brought there by the arrestee,” he said.

No motive for the shooting was given, but it came days after Silva was arrested and charged with identity theft after visiting the Sonic restaurant on Wednesday, authorities said.

Jashinske said Silva was arrested during a vehicle stop. Officers confiscated three firearms from Silva’s vehicle, which had been logged into evidence, he said, adding that the suspect possess a concealed carry permit.

It was unknown if any of the victims from Sunday night had been working when Silva was arrested earlier in the week.

In a statement, Sonic said its Nebraska franchisee was working with law enforcement as they investigate the shooting.

“We are stunned and saddened by what occurred at the Bellevue, NE, SONIC Saturday night,” the statement said. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to the franchise owner and the families and friends impacted by this horrific tragedy.”

Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike said during the press conference Sunday that the last 22 hours have been long but he can’t imagine how long they must feel for the friends and families of the victims.

“I just know that the entire community is praying for the victims and families and will continue to do so,” he said.

Community organization Bellevue First said it has launched a fundraiser for the families of the victims “of this senseless tragedy.”