State

3 arrested in Merced killing

MERCED -- Police have arrested three suspects in the October killing of 26-year-old Derrick Bateman in his east Merced apartment.

Merced detectives found the suspects through DNA evidence, a Sacramento arrest and leads from the Gang Violence Suppression Unit.

The three arrested were: David Azua, 19; Miguel Elizarraraz, 19; and Danielle Lopez, 25. All three are from Atwater and belong to a local gang, according to police.

Spokesman Lt. Andre Matthews said the department wouldn't confirm which gang, to avoid giving the group credibility in public.

Azua and Lopez were arrested in October in Sacramento on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle, possession of a handgun and possession of drugs. Detectives there discovered Bateman's belongings in their car.

Bateman's slaying initially was uncovered after his car was found abandoned in a Modesto Junior College parking lot. Family members went to Bateman's South Parsons Avenue home to check on him and found him shot in his bed.

The usually meticulous apartment had been ransacked, police said.

The final arrest in the case came April 23, when officers served a search warrant at Elizarraraz's Atwater residence. Bateman's belongings were found in the home, police said.

The arrest wasn't announced until Friday because police traveled to interview Lopez and Azua in prison.

Matthews said the police hope to transfer the two to Merced to face murder charges in Bateman's death.

Bateman, a Merced High School graduate, worked at Rent-A-Center on Main Street as an assistant manager at the time of his death.

Matthews said the department believes the suspects could be involved with other crimes in the area.

Anyone with information about the suspects should call detective Chris Russell at 385-4707 or the department's anonymous tip line at 385-4725.

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