Valley Stream resident pleads guilty in Lawrence and Far Rockaway murders


Elmer Gutierrez, a known MS-13 street gang member, pleaded guilty on June 23 for taking part in the December 2018 murder of two young men in Far Rockaway and Lawrence.

Gutierrez, 21, also known as Revolver, a Valley Stream resident, pleaded to second-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy. He will sentenced on Aug. 10. The prison sentence is expected to be 20 years to life. The Nassau County District Attorney recommended a 31-year to life sentence.

“Elmer Gutierrez and his co-defendants methodically planned the murder of Ian Cruz for allegedly disrespecting MS-13,” Acting DA Joyce Smith said in a news release. “Just two days later, Gutierrez sliced the neck of 17-year old Harold Sermeno with a machete after the victim was shot multiple times. This senseless violence has no place in our community, and I thank our partners at the NYPD, NCPD, Queens District Attorney’s Office and FBI Long Island Gang Task Force for helping solve these two murders.”

On Dec. 15, 2018, 23-year old Far Rockaway resident Ian Cruz, a perceived enemy of MS-13, was lured to Bayswater Point State Park in Far Rockaway with the promise of drugs and sex. Cruz met a young woman then 13, and then walked to the park, while Yonathan Sanchez, Carlos Guerra and allegedly a 15-year-old boy hid in the park armed with knives. Sanchez emerged from the bushes and shot Cruz four times in the head with a .22 caliber revolver.

They took Cruz’s belongings and fled to a Nameoke Street apartment in Far Rockaway where Sanchez and Guerra lived. They planned Cruz’s murder and photographs of Cruz allegedly disrespecting MS-13 were circulated among them. Gutierrez helped plan Cruz’s killing, but was unable to be there on the night of the murder, officials said. Cruz was found by a park-goer the following day, in his underwear and on top of a blanket. The six defendants then allegedly fled to the same apartment in Far Rockaway.

  Two days later, Harold Sermeno, 17, of Far Rockaway, was lured to the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence. Sermeno and the same 13-year-old arrived at a park on the property and began to drink and smoke at a picnic table. At that point, the five other defendants, armed with a gun and knives, waited in strategic areas in the park.

Sanchez, 23, then emerged and shot Sermeno four times in the head and once in the chest with a .22 revolver. Gutierrez sliced the victim’s neck with a machete. Sermeno was found the following morning by a person walking a dog. Police officers recovered the machete that was allegedly used in the murder of Sermeno and a .22 caliber revolver that was used in both murders at the Nameoke apartment.  At the time of his death, Sermeno was a Lawrence High School student, who was suspended from school. He was being home-schooled at the center.

Sanchez was sentenced to 34 years to life in prison in July 2020. The case against Guerra, 21, is pending. The cases against two juveniles, an 18-year old man (15 at the time of the crime) and  the now 15-year- old girl are also pending. They were charged with second-degree murder for both incidents. Another defendant (15 at the time of the crime) pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 8-1/2 years to life prison.

Guerra, Gutierrez and Sanchez and two juveniles were arrested on Dec. 20, 2018, in Far Rockaway by members of the NYPD. The sixth defendant, a juvenile, was arrested on eight days later by members of the NYPD and NCPD.