2 men gunned down near Dos Palos

DOS PALOS — Two men were shot to death early Tuesday morning near Dos Palos, the Merced County Sheriff's Department reported.

The victims have been identified as 21-year-old Juan Avalos of Dos Palos and 16-year-old Lionel Medina. Both victims received numerous gunshot wounds and a motive hasn't been determined, according to Deputy Ed Katen, sheriff's spokesman.

The shooting was reported about 1 a.m. inside a detached garage at a residence where Medina lived in the 19000 block of Highway 33. Katen said the victims were pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel.

Although few details are known about the circumstances of the shooting, Katen said investigators believe the victims were specifically targeted and there may be more than one suspect. The shooter likely walked up to the garage and shot both victims, Katen said.

"There was obviously a plan, scheme and design to this shooting. The victims were in the detached garage into the late evening hours, and this must have been known to the killer or killers," Sheriff Mark Pazin said.

Pazin did not comment on reports that the victims were killed execution style.

Katen said it's unknown if the crime is gang-related.

Residents who were inside the home when the shooting happened reported hearing two gunshots. When the victims didn't respond to their calls, a family member went outside and found them. The family then called 911 and reported the shooting, Katen said.

The victims are the county's first reported homicides this year.