Modesto man shot in the head dies

A 29-year-old Modesto man who was the victim of a drive-by shooting has died from a gunshot wound to the head, authorities reported Thursday.

Xavier Morales was shot Monday night as he sat in a car in the 1600 block of Atlantic Drive, said Stanislaus County sheriff's Sgt. Brandon Kiely. Morales died at a Modesto hospital late Wednesday.

Witnesses told investigators that the gunman fired "numerous rounds" at Morales from a red SUV.

Authorities are looking for a 27-year-old man. Mark Allen Madewell, a transient, is a "person of interest" in the shooting, Kiely said. Madewell is described as white, 5 foot 3 inches tall and 150 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes. He also is wanted on a parole violation.

Investigators believe the shooting was gang-related.

On Thursday morning, deputies responded to a shooting that wounded a teenager on Inyo Avenue, about 2½ miles east of the Atlantic drive-by scene.

Morales' homicide was the second shooting death in the Modesto area this month. There have been 19 homicides in 2009 in and around the city, including Empire, Salida and Del Rio.

Two other shootings in the past week have injured several people.

On Saturday, a shooting on South Santa Cruz Avenue in the airport neighborhood injured at least four people, all believed to be teenagers.

On Tuesday, a man was seriously injured when he was shot while walking with his wife and child in the La Loma neighborhood. Detectives have arrested two men in connection with that shooting.

Anyone with information about the Atlantic Drive shooting or Madewell's location should call sheriff's Detective Jon McQueary at 525-7099.

Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at or 578-2378.