A shootout in Winton left two people dead, one described as the father of young children and the other a teenager from Merced, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department reported Tuesday.
The victims, Salvador Enrique Medina Chaves, 36, of Winton and Jose Zamora, 18, of Merced, were shot outside an apartment complex in the 6800 block of Walnut Avenue late Monday, the department reported.
Witnesses reported gunshots about 9 p.m. Authorities found Chaves on the ground in the parking lot. He was flown to a Modesto hospital where he died, deputies said.
Shortly after the shooting, deputies learned Zamora had been driven to Mercy Medical Center in Merced in a private vehicle. He was pronounced dead there, Detective Sgt. Chuck Hale said.
No arrests have been made, and no suspect descriptions have been released.
The shooting happened less than 50 feet from Cynthia Garcia’s house and came as she was playing a game with her family.
“Me and my siblings all of a sudden heard a loud bang that sounded like firecrackers going off all at once, and that’s what we assumed it was,” Garcia said. “We heard a woman scream, and right before she stopped screaming we heard one more shot.”
Garcia said her younger sister was friends with Chaves’ daughter. She described Chaves as an agricultural worker. Garcia was not aware until several hours later that a second person had been shot.
Deputies on Tuesday said it was too early to comment on any motives for the gun violence. Hale said investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the incident was gang-related.
Detectives believe there were at least two gunmen involved, Hale said, but he declined to elaborate on specific details. He said witnesses and neighbors had been cooperative with investigators.
The deaths marks the eighth and ninth homicides of the year in Merced County and the first homicide in the unincorporated area of the county since Sheriff Vern Warnke assumed command of the department late last year.
Warnke said he would like the department to establish a stronger presence in the Winton area but indicated budget restraints and staffing levels limit the number of deputies available.
“We’re doing everything we can with what we’ve got,” Warnke told reporters Tuesday. “We’re trying to make more of a presence out there.”
Garcia, who agreed that more deputies are needed in Winton, said the violence outside her home was disturbing.
“It doesn’t make me feel safe because I have siblings that I need to worry about,” Garcia said. “It really does scare me to know that it was that close in front of our house.”
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Department’s Major Crimes Unit at (209) 385-7472. Tips are confidential and callers may remain anonymous.
Sun-Star staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or email@example.com.