BONITA SPRINGS — By the time 21-year-old Dustin McIntyre was arrested on Thursday, he was well known to deputies in south Lee County.
A documented gang member, his rap sheet includes convictions for stealing cash and merchandise from the Bonita Springs Target store, where he was an employee, and stashing a loaded handgun in an Old 41 Road business as he ran from deputies.
Lisandro Resendiz, 21, was earning a similar reputation. He was arrested in 2008 for beating and robbing a man walking to his Rosemary Park home, and deputies believe he was involved in other robberies in the neighborhood. Resendiz was picked up again in 2009 for spending credit cards stolen from Bentley Village residents.
Both men, believed to be members of a gang called Vatos Locos, now face the most serious charges of their lives. Detectives say they killed two men — alleged drug dealers — in what appears to be a setup attack at a Bonita Springs home.
The victims were beaten until unconscious and then suffocated to death with plastic bags forced over their heads, according to reports. Their bodies were placed in a car, which was driven to rural Lee County and set ablaze.
McIntyre was arrested on Thursday on two counts of first-degree murder. Deputies have yet to find Resendiz, who lived with his parents and sister in San Carlos Park.
If prosecutors file first-degree murder charges against the suspects, both could face the death penalty.
A third man, 20-year-old Colton Lance, was also present during the attacks, although detectives call him a witness in the case.
McIntyre’s first arrest came in 2007, after surveillance video at the Target store off U.S. 41 spotted the teenage cashier doling out cash from the drawer to a friend. McIntyre pleaded guilty to two grand theft charges, had adjudication withheld and was sentenced to a year of probation.
He was arrested seven months later, in November 2007, after running from deputies who spotted him and another gang member walking down Old 41 Road. As deputies approached them, the two men ran toward a nearby salon.
McIntyre entered the business and stashed a gun under a seat cushion, two hair dressers and a customer later told deputies. The .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun was stolen, loaded and had a round in its chamber.
McIntyre told deputies he was getting a haircut.
He bonded, was soon arrested again for violating probation, and remained in jail until pleading no contest to possessing a handgun as a delinquent. McInytre was sentenced to 15 months in state custody and served just over a year at a minimum-security prison.
Resendiz was never sentenced to state custody, but his background had a violent flourish. His first arrest came in October 2008, when detectives say he and several other men robbed a man walking home.
Mario Lopez, 29, told deputies that Resendiz jumped out of an SUV that had been trailing Lopez and his brother as they walked to their Bridgeport Lane home. Threatening to beat him with a stick, Resendiz demanded money. When Lopez said he had $50 in his pocket, Resendiz kicked him above his hip and snatched the $50 and a cell phone from the victim’s pocket.
When deputies responded to two similar robberies on the following day, they were given a license plate number that lead back to Resendiz. He was ultimately charged for the robbery of Lopez, a second-degree felony.
Resendiz pleaded no contest, was adjudicated guilty and was sentenced to 48 months of state probation and 75 hours community service.
As his case worked through the system, he was arrested a second time. With a friend, he was accused of using stolen credit cards to purchase merchandise at a south Fort Myers Walmart. A jewelry clerk at the store told deputies that after Resendiz approached and asked for “the most expensive watch in the store,” he was rejected for the $124 purchase after failing to show ID.
Resendiz then walked to the self-checkout lane and tried to buy clothing, a purchase that was also rejected. He managed to buy an iPod touch with one of the cards, according to the report.
He told deputies that his friend, a kitchen worker at Bentley Village had given him the cards after nabbing them from the “wheelchairs and walkers” of residents while they were eating.
He pleaded no contest to three felony charges surrounding the theft and was sentenced to 60 months state probation, concurrent with his other probation.
Six days later he was back in handcuffs, this time for loitering. Deputies found him and three friends sitting inside a car late one night outside the community pool at The Lakes at Three Oaks. The three men said they were going for a swim but later admitted they were meeting someone to buy marijuana.
After bonding from the arrest, Resendiz was re-arrested for violation of probation. A judge revoked his probation and sentenced him to 364 days in Lee County Jail, with credit for time served. He was released in January 2010.
Thursday, Resendiz’s sister in San Carlos Park said she hadn’t seen her brother since Monday.
The two homicide victims were Daniel Leonor, 24, and Israel Ponce, 20. Detectives say the men arrived at a Bridgeport Lane home to sell cocaine when they were jumped by Resendiz, McIntyre and Lance.