LOS BANOS -- The suspicious death of a Los Banos man has turned into a homicide investigation, Los Banos police said Tuesday.
The victim's roommate has been placed under arrest on suspicion of the killing.
Details about the case are preliminary and police haven't elaborated on how the victim was killed. The victim's name hasn't been released, pending notification of his family.
Cmdr. Ray Reyna Jr. said the victim was found lying on a front porch by a friend at a residence in the 400 block of I Street around 6 a.m. Tuesday. Reyna said the friend flagged down a nearby Merced County Sheriff's Department deputy for help.
Medical personnel responded to the scene, but the victim was pronounced dead shortly afterward. The Los Banos Police Department was notified about the body at 6:17 a.m., Reyna said.
At first, police labeled the death as suspicious. Police confirmed by early Tuesday afternoon that it was a homicide.
Tuesday evening, police placed the victim's roommate, Raymond Hawkins, 58, of Los Banos, under arrest on suspicion of murder. He is in custody at the Los Banos Police Department Jail.
"It was an adult male and there were injuries on the body," Reyna said of the victim.
The victim's home is near an intersection that includes the Robert M. Falasco Justice Center and several downtown businesses. Hours after the body was discovered, people gathered across the street from the residence, wondering what police were investigating.
The incident is Los Banos' first homicide this year, and the city's fourth homicide in the past two years.
Last year two members of the Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang were killed at a nightclub, and in a separate incident, a man was killed in his home during what police allege was a family argument.
Tuesday's death is the ninth homicide reported in Merced County this year.
Los Banos Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 388-6563.