Homicide detectives Tuesday evening were looking for a gang member who they suspect played a role in the stabbing death of a developmentally disabled man 10 days ago near Sisk Road in north Modesto.
Tipsters helped detectives identify Samuel Esequel Esquibel, 30, of Modesto as the man they believe appears in a surveillance video running away from where Ernie Hernandez Jr., 37, of Modesto was killed Aug. 14.
"We're hoping the public will help us again," said Sgt. Rick Armendariz, a Modesto police spokesman. "They helped us identify this suspect, and now we're asking them to help us in locating Mr. Esquibel."
Esquibel is wanted on suspicion of murder. Detectives have not determined whether Esquibel stabbed Hernandez, but they believe he was involved in the attack, Armendariz said.
A second man is seen running in the background of the surveillance video. Detectives haven't said how they believe he might have been involved in Hernandez's slaying, and they're still trying to identify him.
Detectives believe Esquibel is the man seen in the video jumping a closed gate into an apartment complex before running out of the camera's view.
The video came from a camera focused on an entrance to the complex on Sullivan Court, east of where the stabbing occurred behind the Babies R Us store on Sisk.
Police said Esquibel has short black hair and brown eyes, stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 210 pounds. Police considered him armed and dangerous.
Esquibel is a documented member of the Norteños street gang and has several distinguishable tattoos:
An image of a "huelga bird" on the back of his neck.
"San Jose" across his stomach.
"Esquibel" tattooed across his back.
Several tattoos on his shoulders, biceps and arms; some are "Norte" and others have Aztec-style drawings of men and women.
Armendariz said Esquibel has friends and associates in the Central Valley and the Bay Area.
While Esquibel is known to police as a gang member, Armendariz said Hernandez had no involvement with gangs and no run-ins with law enforcement. Detectives had not determined a motive for the slaying.
Hernandez was found about 7:30 p.m. Aug. 14 in a parking lot behind the Rogers Jewelers store in the 3600 block of Sisk.
Detectives believe Hernandez was stabbed, then fled to the parking lot, about 100 yards north. Two people spotted his body in the parking lot and called authorities.
Hernandez lived in a Modesto group home near where he was stabbed. Police said his Saturday routine was to walk to Vintage Faire Mall, pass time with friends and then walk home.
Police ask anyone with information about this stabbing or Esquibel's whereabouts to call the department's tip line at 342-6166 or Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Tipsters can e-mail tips through the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.stancrimetips.org or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus a message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2394.