Downey shooting suspect Jade Douglas Harris, in Downey Superior Court for his first arraignment last month.
Downey shooting suspect Jade Douglas Harris, in Downey Superior Court for his first arraignment last month. (Stephen Carr / Staff Photographer)

DOWNEY — The 30-year-old man charged in one of Downey's worst mass killings pleaded not guilty Wednesday to all charges.

Defendant Jade Douglas Harris appeared for his second arraignment before Downey Superior Court Judge Debra Cole-Hall, surrounded by four Sheriff's deputies and handcuffed and shackled.

He was barely audible when he agreed to waive time for his preliminary hearing, which is scheduled to be set on Dec. 18.

Harris is charged with three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to the criminal complaint filed last month.

The complaint also includes four special circumstance allegations: murder while lying in wait, murder in the commission of a kidnapping, murder in the commission of a carjacking and killing a witness to a crime. Those allegations mean the case is one that could qualify for the death penalty, though prosecutors have not yet convened to determine if they will seek death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

According to Downey Police, Harris went to United States Fire Protection, 8722 Cleta St., about 11 a.m. on Oct. 25, to buy a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, which had been listed for sale on Craigslist for $25,000, but the car was not there, Downey police said.


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Martha E. Zerihi, a spokeswoman for the extended family that owns the fire protection business, said Harris allegedly became enraged when Josimar Rojas, 26, who was handling the sale of the car, refused to tie up two women inside the business. Rojas was the first person fatally shot, Zerihi said.

Next, Harris is accused of fatally shooting Irene Patricia Cardenas, 35, of Cudahy, and wounding Maria Theresa Salinas, 52. At that point, Harris allegedly stole a company car and kidnapped Susana Perez-Ruelas, 34, and her son, Antonio Salinas Jr., 13, and forced her to drive to the family's home about two blocks away, where the Camaro was parked, Zerihi said.

At the house, Perez-Ruelas was fatally shot and the boy was wounded in his arm, Zerihi said.

The only adult witness to survive the shooting was Salinas, who suffered a bullet wound to the face and remains hospitalized.

The fire protection business is owned by brothers Robert Salinas and Antonio Salinas, who is the husband of Susana Perez-Ruelas, Zerihi said.

Though rumors persist about the motive involving factors other than the sale of the used car, an attorney for the family strongly denied they were involved in any wrongdoing.

"The Salinas family is not involved in any illegal activities," attorney Arshak Bartoumian said.

Bartoumian said the family was "hard-working" and "tried to live the American dream by running a prosperous business. Unfortunately they were involved in the senseless killings of three people."

Harris allegedly fled the scene in the Camaro and left his own vehicle behind, which led to his identification and arrest, police said.

Sources close to the investigation and witnesses told the Press-Telegram that police located Harris after he left his car, registered under his name, parked outside the business.

Police had the car towed. When Harris went to pick up the car, he and three others were detained by police.

The three other people were released and Harris was booked for the slayings on Oct. 26.

In addition to entering a plea, Deputy Public Defender Lisa Roth also asked the court Wednesday if it would consider bail for her client.

Based on special circumstances of the case, the judge denied the request.

tracy.manzer@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2150, twitter.com/tmanzer