A 14-year-old boy shot in west Modesto in May has died from his injuries, becoming the city's 21st homicide victim this year.
Though Rafael Gudino was shot in the head, he had recovered enough to begin ninth grade at Modesto High School, his mother said. He took a turn for the worse this month and was admitted to Children's Hospital Central California in Madera.
He died there Dec. 23.
"When my son got shot, I felt like I was going to go crazy," said Marisela Gudino on Tuesday. "He was the sweetest kid. He was not a troublemaker.
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"I feel that God gave him to me a little bit more so I could tell him I love him and take care of him and to prepare me. But he's in a better place now."
Rafael was one of two teens shot the night of May 2. He and a 16-year-old boy were in a four-door car when they were shot near Vicksburg Street and Rouse Avenue. Police believe there was a third person in the car.
The 16-year-old has recovered from his injuries, police said.
The gunmen were described as two males wearing dark clothing. Police believe they were on foot.
Sgt. Brian Findlen, a police spokesman, said investigators are confident the shooting is gang-related. He declined to release further details.
"What we need is for people to step forward and provide us with truthful information so we can take those responsible off the streets," he said. "We are confident that someone knows or someone has the information we need to bring justice to the victim."
After the shooting, the people in the car drove to the 600 block of Roselawn Avenue, where police were called about 11:30 p.m. That's a little less than a mile from where the shooting took place.
Gudino said she doesn't know why the car was driven to Roselawn. She said that on the day of the shooting, her son told her he was going to the movies. She said that as far as she knew, her son was not a gang member.
"To my knowledge, he was not a gang member," she said. "He was hanging out with kids who obviously were. I don't feel he was."
This is the 21st homicide within the city limit this year. There were 20 killings last year.
Gudino said her son was afraid of the dark and being alone after he was shot. He was 13 at the time. Gudino said her son walked with a limp and did not have the use of his left arm because of his injuries. But that didn't get him down.
"He was going to Modesto High. He always had a smile; he always kept his head up high. He didn't get depressed because of his disability."
Detectives ask anyone with information about this homicide to call the Modesto Police Department at 572-9500 or tipsters can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Tipsters can text information to Crime Stoppers by sending a message to 274637. Type "TIP704" along with the message.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2316.