Police: Merced man filed false report, then said he shot himself

May 8, 2013 

— A 36-year-old man could face a charge of filing a false police report after police say he shot himself in the groin -- but initially claimed someone else did it.

Officers responded to the 900 block of West Eighth Street about 9:30 p.m. April 28 and found Esteban Ventura Cruz with a gunshot wound.

Cruz told officers he'd walked into the alley from his back yard when he was confronted by a gunman. Cruz said he grappled with the man, who shot him without saying a word, according to Sgt. Scott Skinner.

Police said Cruz gave only a vague description of the shooter, and was taken to a Modesto hospital for treatment.

Officer found no evidence in the alley where Cruz claimed the shooting took place, but did locate a shell casing in his backyard. Police questioned Cruz's wife, who said she was inside their residence when she heard a shot. Shortly thereafter, Cruz walked in and told his wife he'd been shot and assaulted by two people, Skinner said.

Under questioning from Detective Joe Deliman, however, Cruz admitted he'd been drinking and accidentally shot himself when he was putting the gun in his front pants pocket. Cruz gave police a .25-caliber handgun that wasn't registered to him. Cruz said the gun was given to him by a friend about a year ago.

Skinner said the case will be forwarded to the Merced County district attorney's office for review.

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