Sunset for “Sonny”: Lovelock PD foils murder suspect’s getaway

Sunset for “Sonny”: Lovelock PD foils murder suspect’s getaway

Sunset for “Sonny”: Lovelock PD foils murder suspect’s getaway

The Lovelock Chevron looked like a good bet. A man that wanted to fade into the background might be able to hide behind the Saturday morning hustle and bustle. Travelers filled their coffee cups. Truckers loaded up on gas. Locals popped in for hot pockets to eat on the way to work.

Nobody seemed to notice Santiago “Sonny” Fernandez, 45. But someone recognized his face. Maybe they’d seen it on the news.

It had been ten months since Robert Buchanan III, 48, bled to death in a parking lot in Silver Springs, Nev. Fernandez faced charges of fatally shooting Buchanan, including an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon.

The shooting appeared to be the latest misstep in an ongoing family feud. The bad blood between the Buchanan and Fernandez families goes back several years. There are three pending criminal court cases regarding incidents between the two families.

Fernandez’s mugshot shows his battle scars from the night of the October 2016 murder. His eyes are swollen shut. Fresh wounds crisscross his face. He wound up in a Sheriff’s substation where his injuries aroused suspicion. The police booked him and locked him up in the Lyon County jail.

Fernandez bailed out, to the tune of $500,000. Then he disappeared.

On July 12, 2017, the Lyon  County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) found Fernandez’s car in Silver Springs. The discovery led investigators to his residence. They found evidence that he might be in danger. Perhaps the Buchanans had decided to retaliate, they thought. Maybe they already had.

Later, investigators determined that someone, most likely Fernandez, had staged the crime scene. Still, they wondered if the fugitive planned to flee to his native Mexico. The LCSO asked the public for help finding him.

On July 17 Fernandez failed to show up for his arraignment. The Third Judicial Court of Yerington issued an arrest warrant. The disappearance, the staged crime scene, and failure to appear in court showed a desire to avoid criminal proceedings, they reasoned. Officials plastered his battle scarred face all over the media.

On July 29 Fernandez appeared at the Lovelock Chevron during the morning rush. “He may have been hanging around for a few days,” said Police Chief Mike Mancebo. 

The fugitive tried to hide in plain sight. But an anonymous tipster spotted him. Maybe the anchor tattoo on his right forearm gave him away.

The tipster called the Lyon County Dispatch Center.

“Hey, that guy that’s wanted for murder? Looks like him here at the Lovelock Chevron,” they said. They described a Hispanic male about 5’ 9’’ and 195 pounds. He wore a red shirt.

Lyon County notified Pershing’s dispatch. Police Sergeant Darrell Mancebo took the call. The twenty-four year veteran of the Lovelock Police Department arrived on the scene in minutes. The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office followed to provide backup.

Sergeant Mancebo noticed a man who fit Fernandez’s description leaving the gas station.  The suspect hung his head and started to slink away.

But Darrell Mancebo made contact.

“You look like the guy that’s wanted for murder,” he said. Fernandez admitted his identity. He said, “Yeah, I’m the guy.” He added that he was ready to face the charges.

Police Chief Michael Mancebo and Sgt Darrell Mancebo are brothers. The sergeant is one year older than the chief.

“Fernandez was not armed,” said Michael Mancebo. “He acted kind of subdued and did not give Darrell any problems as far as being arrested. Basically, he was ready to go to jail. We booked him and Lyon County came and got him that same day.” 

“I want to give special thanks to the Lovelock Police Department and the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office for their quick response and roles in the apprehension of this fugitive from justice,” said Lyon County Sheriff Al McNeil. “It was a job well done.”