Two separate incidents of shots fired in a span of five hours led to the arrest of several people over the weekend and one on Monday, police said.
The second incident was the most dramatic, and started at 2:09 a.m. Sunday when officer Brian Bowen heard around 10 gunshots near the 1300 block of West 12th Street. The officer saw two vehicles in the roadway and the occupants apparently were arguing, according to Sgt. Scott Skinner.
2 vehicles, 1 officer
The officer turned on his overhead lights, and both vehicles sped away in different directions. The officer called for assistance and pursued one of the vehicles, which was traveling 55 to 60 mph through a residential area, police said.
The driver of the vehicle failed to negotiate a turn onto U Street, with the vehicle coming to rest in a yard at West 12th and U streets. The vehicle's five occupants got out of the car and were detained.
The officer found a .22-caliber revolver under the front passenger tire of the vehicle. The revolver had four spent casings and one live round in the cylinder, according to police.
Police arrested Richard Noel Villafan, 22, Angel Aguilar Zamora, 20, and Angelica Villafan, 19. The two other passengers were released after questioning.
Richard Villafan was booked on suspicion of evading police and possession of a firearm. Zamora and Angelica Villafan were booked on suspicion of possessing a firearm, according to Skinner.
Second vehicle spotted
Around the same time, Sgt. Joe Weiss spotted the second vehicle speeding eastbound on West 13th Street. The vehicle turned onto V Street, and the driver lost control, hitting a concrete wall under Highway 99.
The pursuit continued until the vehicle stopped at Ashby Road and Beachwood Drive. Officers detained the occupants and police said they found .22-caliber ammunition in the vehicle's center console, but no gun. Police also found a bag containing more 22-caliber ammunition, according to Skinner.
Police arrested Raquel Julianna Martinez, 20, on suspicion of driving under the influence, evading police and hit-and-run. Isaiah Nathaniel Lopez, 20, was arrested on outstanding warrants.
First call comes in
Earlier that same night, at 9:09 p.m., police responded to the 1200 block of Canal Street on reports of shots fired.
The victim, a documented gang member, told police a red Mustang convertible carrying four occupants pulled into an apartment complex. A passenger exited and began shooting at the victim, who wasn't hurt, according to Skinner.
At 9:40 p.m., officers Moses Nelson and Rey Alvarez saw a vehicle matching the description of the one used in the shooting. When officers tried to stop the car, the driver sped away.
Police pursued the Mustang until it rear-ended another vehicle in the 1100 block of West 14th. The driver of the rear-ended vehicle sustained minor injuries.
The occupants of the Mustang ran, but three of them were arrested. Police found a .38-caliber handgun at the scene.
Police arrested Angelo Anthony Flores, 20, Hugo Nemecio Ramos, 19, and Michael Valentino Nava, 27. A fourth man, Juan Ceja Ramos, 18, was arrested Monday. All of the men are documented gang members, according to police.
They were booked at the Merced County Jail on suspicion of attempted homicide, evading arrest, felon in possession of a firearm and participating in a criminal street gang.