An apparent road-rage incident ended Thursday afternoon when a 23-year-old man was shot and killed, the Merced Police Department confirmed.
The victim’s identity was not immediately available as Merced County Coroner’s Office was working to notify his family.
Officers said the occupants of two vehicles got in a traffic dispute after the suspect vehicle apparently followed the victim’s vehicle starting in the area of Highway 99 and Childs Avenue. The victims tried to get away from the pursuing vehicle, but the pursuit continued, police said in a news release.
The vehicles pulled over at the intersection of Coffee Street and Childs Avenue, about a mile east of Golden Valley High School, where one man got out, police said.
“Then someone from the suspect vehicle shot the victim,” Lt. Christopher Goodwin said.
The exact number of shots fired was unclear.
A description of the suspects and their vehicle was not immediately available. The suspect vehicle was last seen heading east on Child’s Avenue toward the Planada area, police said.
The victim got into his vehicle and the driver called 911. Emergency responders met the victim in a grocery store parking lot in the 1900 block of Yosemite Parkway. Paramedics performed CPR on the victim for a short time before taking him to an area hospital, police said.
Detectives searched the victim’s vehicle, a white Honda Civic with blood smeared on the passenger door, for evidence in the north side of the parking lot.
Traffic was shut down briefly on Childs Avenue between Watertown Drive and Coffee Street. Police investigators were seen searching the roadside near a deep irrigation ditch for evidence Thursday afternoon.
Officers were initially told the shooting happened at or near the high school, but those reports were unfounded, Goodwin confirmed. Police said the investigation was just getting underway and it was too early to know whether there were any street-gang connections in the case.
Thursday’s incident marked the ninth homicide of the year in Merced County and the fourth in the city of Merced, which already matches the total number of homicides the city reported in all of 2013.
All the 2014 homicides in Merced County have involved firearms.