Two people have been arrested in the shooting of a 39-year-old man earlier this month in Merced's Loughborough area.
Merced police believe suspects Ricky Sou Saelee, 23, and Amanda Regina Barrera, 25, conspired to rob the victim before the shooting, reported around 2 a.m. in the 1700 block of Conestoga Drive.
Sgt. Scott Skinner said police believe one of the suspects had prior knowledge the victim was carrying money before they robbed him.
The victim told police he was sleeping in the back of his vehicle when the female suspect, Barrera, approached and asked to use his phone. The victim agreed to let Barrera use the phone. She left and returned several hours later, asking to use the victim's phone again. He agreed, but as Barrera was using his phone, the male suspect also appeared, asking if he too could use the phone, according to Skinner.
When the victim refused to let Saelee use his phone, Saelee allegedly opened the passenger door and shot the victim. Barrera and Saelee fled the area with the victim’s phone. The victim was taken to a Modesto hospital and later released.
Detectives followed up on the case and arrested Saelee on Thursday. Police said Saelee tried to flee from his residence in the 1600 block of East 26th Street as parole agents went to his residence to conduct a search. During the search agents found a .38 caliber handgun in a black backpack in the residence's backyard.
Barrera was arrested around 5 p.m. Monday by Detective Paul Johnson in the 3000 block of Park Ave. Police found Barrera in possession of the victim’s cell phone. A check of the victim’s phone calls showed just prior to the shooting, the number called was to Saelee's phone. Barrera denied any involvement in the robbery.
Saelee admitted the backpack containing the handgun was his, but claimed the weapon belonged to a relative. Saelee denied any involvement in the shooting, but admitted he received a call from Barrera in which she asked him for a handgun. Saelee claimed he left the handgun outside his residence for Barrera to use.
Detectives are asking anyone with information about the shooting to call Detective Chris Russell at (209) 385- 4707 or the department’s automated tipline at (209) 385-6992.
Tips can be sent via anonymous text message by dialing "TIP411" (847411) and including the word "ComVIP" as the keyword in the text message.
-- Sun-Star staff