A Dos Palos man was charged with murder Friday in connection with a gang-related shootout that left a 21-year-old Firebaugh woman dead.
Enrique Najera, 22, was charged with murder and a string of firearms and street-gang allegations in the death Monday of Jadira Bridget Torres Fuentes, according to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office.
Torres Fuentes was driving a vehicle about 3:45 p.m. Monday on Highway 33, north of Dos Palos. She and her boyfriend, 19-year-old Juan Antonio Gonzalez, got into a “rolling gunbattle” with rival gang members, including Najera, according to the Merced County Sheriff’s Office.
At least one firearm believed to have been used in the gunfight has been recovered, authorities have said.
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Najera was arrested shortly after the shooting when he went to a Los Banos hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound he suffered to his leg.
Najera appeared briefly in court Friday via video monitor at the Robert M. Falasco Justice Center, but did not enter a plea. He is scheduled to return to court Wednesday before Judge Mark V. Bacciarini, according to Merced Superior Court records.
He remained in custody Friday without bail at the John Latorraca Correctional Facility, according to jail records.
The search continued Friday for a second suspect in the case, identified as Jose Garcia Diaz Jr., Undersheriff Jason Goins confirmed.
The 19-year-old Dos Palos man is believed to have been in the vehicle with Najera at the time of the shooting. Detectives have asked for the public’s help in locating Garcia Diaz.
Garcia Diaz also was charged with murder and weapons and gang allegations Friday, court records show.
Gonzalez also was arrested Friday on suspicion of opening fire during the gunfight. However, prosecutors have declined to file any charges against him in the case, according to Harold Nutt, Merced County chief deputy district attorney.
“It appears that (Gonzalez) apparently had a legitimate right to use self-defense in this case,” Nutt told the Sun-Star. “At this point, we have no plans to file any charges against him.”
Gonzalez was released from the Merced County jail late Thursday, according to booking records.
Torres Fuentes’ death marked the sixth homicide of the year in Merced County.
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482
How you can help
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Merced County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit at 209-385-7472. Tips are confidential and callers can remain anonymous.