Merced police are investigating the death of an 18-year-old man who was found shot to death early Sunday morning.
The victim, identified by the Merced County Coroner's Office as Andrew Flores, was found in the 1200 block of Pacific Drive in North Merced, local law enforcement officials reported. The victim suffered several gunshot wounds. No suspects are in custody and the motive is unknown.
After a passerby found the victim's body on the sidewalk, police responded to the scene at 5:32 a.m. and searched the neighborhood for witnesses, according to Merced Police Lt. Tom Trindad.
Police believe the death happened sometime between midnight and 5:30 a.m. Sunday, although officials received no calls of shots fired in the area where the body was found.
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Mary Coronado, who lives across the street from the crime scene, said she heard what she thought were firecrackers Saturday night. "Then I just heard a car speed off," she said. "But when I saw the police and they told me (someone was killed), I was like, 'my God it was gunfire.'"
Several other nearby residents said they heard what they thought were firecrackers around 2:15 a.m. Sunday.
The area doesn't typically experience a lot of violent crime, Trindad said. "The worst things we usually have up there are car break-ins and party disturbance type calls," he said.
"I thought this was a really good area," Coronado said. "Hopefully it doesn't happen anymore. It was really upsetting."
The death is the third homicide reported this year in the city of Merced, and the ninth in the county.
Police are asking anyone with any information to call Detective Joe Deliman at (209) 385-6992, or the department’s automated tipline at (209) 385-4725. Tips are kept confidential and you can remain anonymous. Tips can also be sent via anonymous text message by dialing "TIP411" (847411) and including the word "ComVIP" as the keyword in the text message.
-- Victor A. Patton and Joshua Emerson Smith