Man arrested in 16-year-old Gwinnett boy’s death insists he’s innocent, not in a gang

The man arrested for shooting a 16-year-old boy to death denies having anything to with the murder and says he does not have the gang ties that Gwinnett police say he does.

Dennis Calzadilla, 20, was arrested in the death of Jose Daniel Martinez, whose body was found behind an abandoned home in Lawrenceville last Wednesday. Police said the home is covered in MS-13 gang graffiti.

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Channel 2′s Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Matt Johnson was at the Gwinnett County Jail Tuesday, where Attorney Doug Rohan said that police made a mistake in arresting his client, Calzadilla, who has no criminal record.

“My client has nothing to do with any gang,” Rohan said. “They are looking at a gang problem in Gwinnett. And they’re looking for ways to solve it. And I think they’ve missed the mark.”

Officers with the gang unit disagree.


“We feel that we have a very solid case to connect the suspect here to gang activity,” one officer said. “We’re doing high-impact patrols in areas where gangs are prevalent or where there is gang activity.”

Either way, Calzadilla wont’ be getting out of jail any time before his court date.

Meanwhile, the victim’s mother, Jilsai Ramirez, said nothing has been the same since someone shot and killed her son, who was a student at Berkmar High School.

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“That was the most devastating thing that ever happened to me,” she said. “I cannot think about those words that the officer spoke, that they found him dead,” she said.

Ramirez said it was supposed to be another school day, but when she went in his room to wake him up, her son wasn’t there.

Police have not released a motive for the murder, but Martinez’s mother said her son knew the suspect before his death.

“He was the last person who saw him,” Ramirez said.

Calzadilla remains in jail with no bond.