Investigators have arrested a gang member suspected in four drive-by shootings at north Modesto homes in May, including shooting at one home twice in a night, a police spokesman said Friday.
Modesto police Sgt. Rick Armendariz said people were inside the homes when the shots were fired, but no one was injured.
The shootings occurred over seven days, and the three homes shot at were within a mile of each other in neighborhoods just north of West Briggsmore Avenue.
Armendariz said Andrew Melendez, 20, of Modesto had been in custody for nearly four months when gang investigators determined he was a suspect in the four shootings.
Melendez initially was arrested on suspicion of two counts of shooting at an inhabited dwelling after the two shootings at the home in the 2700 block of Jennifer Drive.
About 11 p.m. May 7, police responded to reports of shots fired at the Jennifer Drive home, just east of Prescott Road.
Armendariz said officers arrived and discovered someone had driven by in a white two-door car and fired several shots at the home.
About an hour later, after the officers had collected evidence, gathered witness statements and just left the home, police received reports of the second shooting at the same Jennifer Drive home. Armendariz said someone was seen shooting from the same car as earlier.
Officers began searching the neighborhood and spotted the white car leaving the crime scene. Armendariz said it was Melendez driving away in a white Acura Integra.
The officers pursued the car for about two blocks before Melendez stopped at Prescott and Rumble roads. Melendez ran from the car, but police caught him.
Armendariz said the officers recovered a handgun and ammunition believed to have been used in the shootings.
Rearrested in jail
Along with the shooting charges, Melendez was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm, evading police in a vehicle and violating probation.
Melendez was in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail on Thursday afternoon when police rearrested him on suspicion of two additional counts of shooting at an inhabited dwelling.
Armendariz said Modesto police gang investigators conducted a follow-up investigation and linked Melendez to the other shootings. The investigators believe Melendez used a different vehicle in these shootings.
The first shooting occurred about 11:30 p.m. May 1 at a home in the 1800 block of Waring Way, just west of Tully Road. Shots were fired at the home from a vehicle.
About 90 minutes later, shots were fired from a vehicle at a home in the 2400 block of Strivens Avenue, just east of Sisk Road.
Melendez is a documented member of the Norteño street gang. Armendariz said investigators believe Melendez was targeting rival gang members at the homes in the four shootings.
Gang enhancements were added to Melendez's charges. The enhancements could mean a longer prison sentence if Melendez convicted.
Modesto police Lt. William Ryan said this case is a prime example of how officers and investigators work together to solve gang crimes.
The patrol officers found and arrested Melendez before the gang investigators followed up and discovered the links to the other drive-by shootings, said Ryan, a supervisor with the department's investigations division.
Police ask anyone with information about these shootings to call Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Tipsters also can e-mail tips through the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.stancrimetips.org, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" and a message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.