Two men were killed and a third was injured Thursday night after being shot in the 7000 block of Onyx Avenue in Winton, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department reported.
Details are preliminary and the names of the victims have not been released by the coroner’s office. Family members identified one of the men who was killed as Helder Menera, 30, of Atwater.
No suspects have been arrested and the motive remains under investigation.
Deputies responded to a call of shots fired at 9:49 p.m. and found two of the victims in the garage of a residence, according to Deputy Ed Katen. The third man was found inside the home.
Both victims in the garage were pronounced dead at the scene. The condition of the man found inside the home is unknown, although Katen said he is expected to survive his wounds.
A steady procession of friends and family members of the victims on Friday visited the Winton residence where the shooting occurred. Among those family members was Martha Pedraza, 26, who identified herself as Menera’s cousin.
Pedraza said she didn’t know anything about the shooting, other than hearing that gunmen wearing masks approached the garage area on foot and opened fire at Menera and the other victims.
Pedraza said her cousin didn’t have any enemies that she’s aware of. She called him a hard-working, responsible man who worked at a local packinghouse on a farm. She said her cousin had no gang connections, and had a 1 year-old daughter and a baby on the way. Pedraza said her family is devastated by the loss. “It’s a rough time right now,” she said.
Menera had been visiting his uncle at the home, according to Pedraza.
The residential neighborhood where the shooting happened is inundated with gang graffiti, Katen said, but it’s too early to tell whether the shooting was gang-related.
Eight people have been victims of homicide this year in Merced County, and all of the cases have involved firearms.
Deputies are asking anyone with information about the shooting to call the Merced County Sheriff's Department at (209) 385-7472. Tips are kept confidential and callers can remain anonymous.