Merced County prosecutors on Monday charged six people with various felonies in connection with a gang-related double homicide in Winton.
The District Attorney’s Office charged Jose Ariel Hernandez Jr., 19, and David Zamora, 20, each with two counts of murder in connection with the April 6 gang shootout in Winton, according to Merced Superior Court records.
Salvador Enrique Medina Chaves, 36, of Winton and Jose Zamora, 18, of Merced were killed during the gunfight between rival gangs in the 6800 block of Walnut Avenue, the county Sheriff’s Department said.
Jose Zamora and David Zamora are brothers, Detective Sgt. Chuck Hale confirmed.
Hale declined to comment on details of the case, citing a need to protect the investigation. But he did say a group of suspected gang members from Merced traveled to Winton on the night of April 6 “for a specific purpose.”
“And a shootout occurred between the groups,” Hale said Monday.
Authorities found Chaves on the ground after the shooting in the parking lot of an apartment complex. He was flown to a Modesto hospital where he died, deputies said.
A short time later, deputies learned Jose Zamora had been driven to Mercy Medical Center in Merced in a private vehicle. He died at the hospital, deputies said.
Prosecutors on Monday also charged Jose Alonzo Sanchez, 18, Richard C. Thomas, 32, and Brynn Salvador Lopez-Benavidez, 19, with criminal street gang participation and accessory to murder after the fact, court records show.
Sanchez, Thomas and Lopez-Benavidez are all Merced residents, according to Merced County jail records.
Clemente Valencia Jr., 25, also of Merced, was charged with destroying evidence, court records show.
Lopez-Benavidez was the only defendant who did not appear in court Monday. Jail records show he posted bail following an arrest in March on weapons and gang allegations.
A 13-year-old male was arrested previously in the same case. He cannot be charged as an adult, authorities have said.
The other five defendants appeared briefly in court Monday, but their arraignments were postponed until Friday to give them more time to find attorneys, according to Nicole Silveira, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case.
Hernandez Jr. and David Zamora were arrested Thursday during a large operation targeting Merced County gang members that involved numerous law enforcement agencies.
Rob Parsons: (209) 385-2482