WINTON — A 28-year-old woman died Tuesday one day before her birthday after being gunned down in a random drive-by shooting late last week, the Merced County Sheriff's department reported.
Maria Fuentes was shot three times during a barbecue party in the 7100 block of Center Street on Friday, said Sheriff Mark Pazin during a news conference Wednesday.
She was taken to a Modesto-area hospital where she died Tuesday, he said.
"It's heartbreaking you can't enjoy a Fourth of July weekend without looking over your shoulder," Pazin said. The shooting had no gang-related ties and appeared to be random, he added.
Earlier on Friday, authorities received calls about another shooting in Winton just minutes before from the incident on Center Street.
Ricardo Torres, Jr., 21, was inside his car at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and California Street when he was shot three times in the abdomen area.
Pazin said Torres, who's an Army reservist, managed to drive to a nearby fire station to get help. He was taken to a hospital, where he remains in serious condition, Pazin said.
There is no apparent relationship between the victims, but authorities believe the same shooters are responsible for both incidents.
The gunmen are described as two or three men, dressed in black and driving a dark-colored vehicle, Pazin said.
"It seems to be people that, in my opinion, are terrible human beings," Pazin said of those who fired the weapons. He asked for the public's help in identifying the people responsible for crimes he called "callous" and "arbitrary."
Anyone with information about the two Winton shootings is asked for call the Merced County Sheriff's Department at (209) 385-7444.
Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.