Merced deputies respond to drive-by shootings in Planada, Dos Palos

The Merced County Sheriff's Department responded to two separate drive-by shootings on opposite sides of the county Sunday, one in the Dos Palos area, the other in Planada.

The Planada drive-by shooting was reported around 10:45 p.m. Sunday in the 300 block of Campos Court. The shooters drove by and fired an unknown number of rounds at the house before leaving the area.

A 19-year-old man, who was visiting his neighbor, was shot once in the face. The bullet hit near his jaw and exited through his cheek. The victim is expected to recover from his injuries, even though it was just a few inches from being a fatal gunshot wound, sheriff's spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie said.

Deputies found the victim after he'd already gone to Mercy Medical Center Merced for treatment. Although the victim isn't believed to be a gang member, deputies said the house has been previously known for gang activity. No details are available about the shooters or their vehicle.

In the Dos Palos area incident, a 19-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of committing a drive-by shooting in the 17000 block of Highway 33.

Fortunately, no one was hurt during the incident. Suspect Amanda Esparza was arrested and booked for allegedly committing the gang-related shooting, MacKenzie said.

The incident was reported around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday. Deputies responded to a shots fired call and discovered the home was struck by several bullets from an unknown caliber firearm.

During the investigation, deputies found the vehicle allegedly used in the drive by at a residence in the 21000 block of Reynolds Avenue. A search warrant was obtained and deputies found Esparza inside the house with gang paraphernalia, MacKenzie said.

Also inside the house was a small amount of cocaine, but the firearm wasn't found.

Esparza was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of possessing cocaine. She was released after her $10,000 bail was posted.

Deputies are asking anyone with information to call (209) 385-7472. Tips are kept confidential and you can remain anonymous.

-- Sun-Star staff