WINTON -- Two men were hospitalized Wednesday evening after being shot in the area of Morgan Court, near Carlen Avenue, the Merced County Sheriff's Department reported.
One of the victims suffered a wound to the head, while the other had pellets in his back, deputies said. They were talkative when deputies arrived at the scene, were taken to a Modesto hospital, and appeared to be in stable condition.
No suspects have been arrested.
Sheriff Mark Pazin said the incident was reported around 5:30 p.m., when the occupants of a van were seen driving after a white sedan. The van's occupants began firing at the other vehicle, and two of the sedan's occupants -- males in their late teens to early 20s -- were struck by gunshots.
The sedan's rear left window was blown out.
Pazin said the information received from the victims was "very sketchy" and the crime likely is gang-related.
Many residents in the Winton neighborhood were outside holding barbecues in celebration of the Fourth of July when the shooting happened.
Some residents reported hearing "a few loud pops," saying they thought the gunshots were firecrackers. Others said they weren't aware of the gunshots until deputies arrived at the scene.
Deputies believe a shotgun and a handgun were used in the assault.
No details are available about the shooters, although their vehicle was described as a blue Chevy Astro van.
Sun-Star reporter Mike North contributed to this report.
City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or email@example.com.