Two people have been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a 23-year-old Delhi man.
Gilbert Levi Cortez, 21, of Delhi was booked into the Merced County jail on suspicion of murder, street gang participation and weapons allegations. He remained in custody Thursday in lieu of more than $1.2 million bail, according to booking records.
The suspected shooter in the case, a 16-year-old boy, was also arrested, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department confirmed. He is in custody at the Iris Garrett Juvenile Justice Facility.
Marcos Naranjo-Servin, 23, was killed in a shootout with rival gang members about 4 p.m. Saturday at the corner of Shanks Road and Letteau Avenue in Delhi, Detective Sgt. Chuck Hale said.
Naranjo-Servin died at an area hospital a short time later.
Hale said Naranjo-Servin was looking at vehicles in the dirt lot with his father and sister when a vehicle pulled into the area and the 16-year-old exited the car and opened fire. Naranjo-Servin returned fire and was shot at least once. No other injuries were reported.
The vehicle used, a Honda sedan, had been reported stolen June 6 from Atwater. The vehicle was recovered earlier this week in Turlock, deputies confirmed.
Sheriff’s detectives likely prevented further violence when they stopped a vehicle with four suspected gang members who allegedly were carrying two sawed-off shotguns, Sheriff Vern Warnke said.
“I absolutely believe the deputies prevented a retaliation,” Warnke said. “They did excellent work, as always, and I’m very proud of them.”
The four men were spotted driving past Cortez’s home Monday night. Several deputies were on a stakeout outside the home in the 19000 block of Yvonne Drive. Cortez had been identified as a suspect in the death of Naranjo-Servin and the driver of the vehicle, Hale confirmed, but said Thursday he could not elaborate.
“We had the house under surveillance and they were seen driving past the house slowly, so we followed the vehicle, making our presence known” Hale said.
Deputies stopped the vehicle at the corner of Bradbury and Griffith roads. One man, later identified as 18-year-old Luis Ochoa of Delhi, ran from the vehicle but was quickly apprehended, Hale said.
Deputies also arrested a 15-year-old boy from Delhi, Joshua Thomas Rietz, 19, of Delhi, and Javier Luquin Cervantes, 19, of Merced.
Inside the vehicle, a brown Buick sedan, investigators found two sawed-off shotguns, one in the front seat, the other in the back seat, deputies said.
Investigators on Tuesday served a search warrant on Cortez’s home and he and the 16-year-old were arrested. Inside the home, Hale said, detectives seized several firearms including a Cx4 Beretta that Hale said held .40- caliber ammunition. Three guns were taken as evidence, but Hale declined to say whether any of the guns might have been used in the shooting of Naranjo-Servin.
Naranjo-Servin’s death was the 12th homicide of the year in Merced County and the second case in the sheriff’s jurisdiction. Both cases have resulted in arrests.
Hale praised the work of the major crimes investigators, led by Detective Mike Ruiz. Hale described the investigation as a whirlwind effort of nearly 40 hours of uninterrupted work. “They worked two straight days without sleep, going nonstop,” Hale said. “Ruiz and all the detectives did an outstanding job.”
Hale said at least one other person is believed to have been in the vehicle with the shooter at the time of Naranjo-Servin’s death. He is described as a Latino man in his late teens or early 20s, about 5 feet, 6 inches tall, with brown eyes and black hair.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Ruiz at (209) 385-7445. Tips are confidential and callers may remain anonymous.
Rob Parsons: (209) 385-2482