A man who heard banging outside his apartment confronted three suspected burglars and scared them off by firing a pistol, police said today. Officers arrested two of them a short while later.
Police said the incident happened just before 10 p.m. Sunday near West Washington Street and Key Avenue.
The resident told police he confronted three men outside his apartment building and as they advanced on him, he retreated and fired a semi-automatic pistol into the ground.
The men backed off but stayed in the area. Police responding to the possible burglary report captured two of the men about two blocks away: Lamberto Godina, 18, of Ripon and Jose Mendoza, 19, of Salida.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Merced Sun-Star
They were booked into the San Joaquin County Jail on charges of assault, trespassing, and creating a disturbance.
Officers are trying to locate the third suspect. All three are documented members of the Norteño street gang.
The police department will ask the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office to review the case for possible charges against the victim for discharging a firearm within city limits, under the suspicion that the victim needlessly escalated the situation, police said.
Police are not releasing his identity because he fears for his safety.
Citing an increase in criminal activity, most of it gang-related, in the area, police urge anyone with information on the incident to report it immediately at 599-2102.