Winton shooting now considered a homicide investigation

06/13/2013 4:46 PM

06/13/2013 4:51 PM

A Winton shooting that injured three people earlier this month has turned into a homicide investigation.

Mateo Gonzales, 40, recently succumbed in the hospital to wounds he suffered during a June 5 shooting in the 7100 block of Grape Avenue. Two other men who were injured during the shooting remain in the hospital, according to Sheriff Mark Pazin.

Pazin said detectives believe the culprits behind the shooting targeted the victims because they were growing marijuana.

The sheriff said the incident is the latest in a string of home invasion incidents where people were targeted over pot.

"This person basically lost his life, growing this junk," Pazin said. “This has gone from an aberration to a trend, when it comes to home invasion robberies."

Thus far, Pazin said it appears the victims were growing the marijuana for monetary purposes.

The suspects are described as two Latino men in their mid 30s to early 40s. They were driving a newer model white four-door sedan, according to deputies.

Pazin said a similar homicide, where someone was targeted over marijuana, was reported in February near Ballico. In that case, a 71-year-old man was gunned down.

In April last year, a 70-year-old man was killed at a residence in Hilmar. In that case, detectives said a relative of the victim who spent time at home may have been a medical marijuana user. Detectives speculated the attackers may have associated the relative with the victim's home, and targeted it for that reason. No suspects were arrested in either of those cases.

Anyone with information about the shooting can call detectives at (209) 385-7444. Tips are kept confidential and you can remain anonymous.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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