Law enforcement investigates scene of officer-involved shooting in Snelling
A Turlock man, the son of a Stanislaus Superior Court judge, faces charges of attempted murder after firing on law enforcement officers following a pursuit Thursday night that began in Turlock and concluded in the Merced County community of Snelling.
From within his Lincoln sedan, which was disabled by a tack strip, Kevin William Mayhew, 40, fired at officers with an assault-type rifle, authorities said. Six returned fire: Merced police officers, Merced County sheriff’s deputies and one Turlock officer. Turlock police Chief Nino Amirfar said Mayhew was hit once – a grazing wound – and no officers were injured.
The incident began when Turlock officers attempted to serve search warrants at multiple locations connected to the investigation of an October 2016 homicide in which police say Mayhew is “a person of interest.” On Oct. 31, 30-year-old Juy Anthony Gastelo was fatally shot by a homeowner after breaking into a home on North Thor Street.
The North Thor home, which police said is Mayhew’s, was among the locations where police served warrants. Another location was about 2 miles away near East Hawkeye Avenue and North Quincy Road. That neighborhood is home to Mayhew’s father, Stanislaus Superior Court Judge William Mayhew, though police have not confirmed a warrant was served at the judge’s home.
About 7:45 p.m. Thursday at the location near Hawkeye and Quincy, officers saw Kevin Mayhew put a rifle case in the trunk of his car and drive off, authorities said. They attempted to pull over his vehicle but he refused to stop.
Merced County sheriff’s deputies joined the chase near East Avenue and Oakdale Road. The pursuit continued into Merced on 16th Street to G Street, where Mayhew turned north and left the city heading toward Snelling.
Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said it was fortunate the chase never reached high speeds, saying the top speed reported in Merced County was about 55 mph.
“He was going at or below the speed limit nearly the entire time he was in Merced County,” Warnke said. “That fact and the fact that officers and deputies had their lights and sirens going probably helped prevent any injuries to citizens.”
Warnke said Mayhew managed to drive around two spike strips during the pursuit before a Merced police officer got ahead of the chase and laid down a third strip on Snelling Road near the Merced River, about a quarter-mile from Highway 59 in the Snelling area.
“The officer did a fantastic job getting the strip down in a place where the suspect couldn’t avoid it, and it’s my belief that disabling the car in that isolated area helped prevent injuries,” Warnke said. “From my perspective, it was a good outcome because none of our people were injured and no residents were injured.”
After the brief gunfight, police found the gun Mayhew fired and removed other weapons from his vehicle, Amirfar said. Turlock officers also found multiple pieces of evidence from Mayhew’s home on Thor Street, police said.
It has not been determined which officer’s shot struck Mayhew, Amirfar said. Per standard practice by all departments involved, all six officers were placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
Mayhew’s father has been a judge in Stanislaus County since 1994 and handles civil cases. The judge answered his door Friday morning but declined comment.
A next-door neighbor of Judge Mayhew’s, Joe Aghassi, said he was shocked and pained for the family to hear of the incident. He said he has known the judge’s son only by a nickname, Red, but always has found him easygoing and polite.
Two of Kevin Mayhew’s neighbors on North Thor Street, who requested anonymity, witnessed the warrant being served there Thursday night and said police took away a sizable number of guns – enough to make one officer exclaim, “Wow.”
The neighbors were aware of the Oct. 31 shooting but said they did not see or hear anything that day. They said they had not seen Mayhew in at least a month, and he was not a friendly neighbor. “I thought he was a hit man or something,” one said in light of the guns they saw, Mayhew’s demeanor and the several vehicles he drove.
Mayhew remains in the Merced County jail on $4 million bail and has been placed in a safety cell for observation. Warnke said he will recommend charges of attempted murder.
The Merced County District Attorney’s Office expects to review the allegation of attempted murder on a peace officer early next week. Harold Nutt, chief deputy district attorney, said he received a briefing about the case Friday but did not expect to formally review any reports until Monday or Tuesday.
Nutt said there was no timetable available Friday for when prosecutors may receive reports in the officer-involved shooting portion of the case. The California Justice Department has been called in to lead that investigation due to the number of officers involved from multiple agencies.
“That (officer-involved shooting) case is going to be much more complicated,” Nutt said.
Kevin Mayhew was convicted in 2002 of felony vandalism stemming from a March 2001 window-smashing spree, Modesto Bee archives show. Investigators said Mayhew and two accomplices used slingshots and marbles to shoot out windows in businesses and parked cars, causing more than $100,000 in damage to dozens of Modesto and Turlock businesses.
Modesto Bee staff writers Jim Silva and Deke Farrow contributed to this report.
Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482