Dos Palos police seek suspect in Thursday night homicide

A 21-year-old man was stabbed to death Thursday night in Dos Palos and police are asking the public for help in locating the suspect.

Police are searching for Edwin Martinez, 19, in the stabbing death of Juan Carlos Cuadras. Dos Palos police responded to the scene about 10 p.m. in the 2000 block of Walnut Avenue.

Upon arrival, officers found the victim suffering from a stab wound. He was taken Memorial Hospital Los Banos, where he was pronounced dead, according to police.

Officers worked throughout the night and identified Martinez, a former Dos Palos High School student, as the person responsible for the assault, police said.

Dos Palos Police Chief Barry Mann said there was a small gathering at a residence, that Martinez had walked by and may have said something to the people who were there.

A female went over to Martinez and there was a verbal exchange, Mann said. The victim tried to intervene, asking the female to come back to the residence.

Cuadras was trying to avoid an altercation, Mann said. "(Cuadras) went over there to tell the girl, 'Hey, come back over here. We don't need any problems,' " Mann said. "And that's when the assault (by Martinez) occurred."

The victim was unresponsive when police arrived, and residents were putting pressure on the wound, trying to stop the bleeding.

Police are searching for the weapon in the case, Mann said.

There were numerous witnesses to the assault, he said. Martinez ran from the scene and fled in a car described as a light-colored Mitsubishi.

Martinez and the victim had affiliations with rival gangs, Mann said. Martinez has connections in Sacramento, Los Banos and Menifee in Riverside County, and might be hiding out in those areas. An alert has been sent to law enforcement statewide, Mann said.

Martinez is considered armed and dangerous. Police are asking anyone with information about his whereabouts to call (209) 392-2177. Tips are confidential and callers can remain anonymous.

The homicide was the first reported this year in Merced County. Fifteen homicides were reported in Merced County in 2011, a decrease from 28 in 2010.

Managing Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsunstar.com.