Coroner identifies Merced man who was shot in homeless camp

Andrew Kuhn/Merced Sun-Star

The man killed at a homeless encampment this week has been identified as 55-year-old Gardner Leroy Keys, the Merced County Coroner’s Office said on Friday.

The New Year’s Day slaying and first homicide of 2019 in Merced County took place near East Mission Avenue and Highway 99, according to investigators.

Keys was shot multiple times around 3 a.m. on Tuesday, according to investigators. His body was found by investigators after another man called 911 to report being shot in the arm, Deputy Daryl Allen said on Friday.

The second man, whose name was not available, was flown to a Modesto hospital with a non-life threatening wound, deputies confirmed.

At least one person opened fire on the two victims while they were inside a tent in the encampment. Investigators on Friday were still looking into any possible motives for the attack.

No arrests have been made. Investigators declined to comment on the weapon or weapons involved in the attack.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Merced County Sheriff’s Office at 209-385-7472 or 209-385-7445.