Background: Omega Bar in Virginia Beach where U.S. Navy sailor Gabriel Martinez, pictured inset, was last seen before he was shot to death on Dec. 3, 2022. Photo of Martinez courtesy of Virginia Beach Police Department. Background photo YouTube screengrab WVEC.
The family of Gabriel Martinez, a sailor in the U.S. Navy believed abducted and killed after a holiday party with friends in Virginia, is still seeking answers about who shot the 24-year-old nearly a year after his death.
Martinez’s body was found by Virginia Beach Police Department officers on a residential street in the coastal community just after 2 a.m. on Dec. 3, 2022. They were responding to reports of gunfire in the area when they located him, according to a statement from the department. The people responsible for Martinez’s murder, however, appeared long gone.
With leads in the unsolved case now grown cold, police are renewing their efforts to find the suspects and have recently released surveillance footage from the area where Martinez was last seen: the Omega Bar in Virginia Beach, an establishment roughly a mile from where his body was found on Pickering Street.
The footage purports to show suspects sought by police leaving the Omega Bar parking lot around the same time as Martinez.
When officers found his body later that night, they reported that he also appeared to have been robbed since he was missing a credit card and jewelry. His brother, Willmar Martinez, told local CBS affiliate WTKR that he does not believe his sibling would have simply gotten into a random stranger’s car and that there was no reason for his brother to be in the neighborhood where he was found.
Upon reviewing footage, police observed that a red Kia Soul was spotted both in the parking lot of Omega Bar the night Martinez was killed as well as at the crime scene. Police said two men spotted driving the Kia are considered their primary suspects. One suspect wore a yellow jacket with a hood, the other was wearing a white jacket.
Virginia Beach Police Department released surveillance footage of the red Kia Soul in the parking lot of Omega Bar in Virginia Beach. Two suspects spotted driving this vehicle were seen in the parking lot of the bar as pictured as well as near the crime scene on Pickering Street.
Virginia Beach Police Department released surveillance footage of two suspects believed involved in the abduction and shooting of Gabriel Martinez, a Navy sailor who was killed on Dec. 3, 2022, after he left Omega Bar in Virginia Beach. Police said one suspect, left, wore a white sweater or jacket and the other suspect, right, was seen wearing a yellow puffer-style coat with hood. Both suspects were spotted driving a red Kia Soul that was seen outside of the bar as well as at the crime scene.
Martinez, a San Antonio, Texas, native, was based at Naval Station Norfolk and was attending a squadron Christmas party the night he was killed. His brother reported speaking to him by phone that evening and seeing pictures of him decked out in nice attire.
Local ABC affiliate WVEC reported that police do not think Martinez got into any sort of fight or altercation with the two suspects prior to his death. Martinez’s family said they do not believe he knew the men at all.
Police do not believe the suspects were inside Omega Bar at the same time as Martinez.
Virginia Beach Police Department Detective Michael Koch said this week they have already tracked down every lead possible to help bring closure to the Martinez family.
“But now we’re taking the opportunity to turn to the community because we know somebody out there knows who this is,” Koch told WTKR.
The Virginia Beach Police Department has asked that anyone who might have a tip about the shooting to call detectives at 757-385-4101 or visit p3tips.com. Anonymous tips can also be made via Crime Stoppers at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]