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Man arrested after reported shooting in South Merecd

A 20-year-old man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of assault with a firearm, after Merced police responded to a call of shots fired at West 12th and Canal streets.

Michael Anthony Villegas was taken into custody after police said he matched the description of the shooter.No one was hurt in the shooting, according to Cmdr. Floyd Higdon.

Police were dispatched to the scene after receiving a report of a fight involving gang members. Higdon said there were reports of beer bottles being thrown, followed by gunshots.

Although there was no fight when police arrived, a 20-year-old male and a 17-year-old male said three males had driven by and started calling them gang slurs. The men then circled back around and continued with the name calling, Higdon said.

After the victims walked toward the street, Higdon said the witnesses reported that the men drove off — but one of them fired a handgun at the victims as they were leaving.

Witnesses gave a description of the shooter, and Villegas was arrested on the 100 block of West 11th Street. One of the victims was also able to identify Villegas, Higdon said.

Under questioning, denied being involved in the shooting. He then said that it was the victims who shot at him. He also would not identify the other males he was with, Higdon said.

Higdon said police discovered that Villegas had discarded some items of clothing prior to his arrest. Police believe he was wearing those items of clothing during the shooting.

Villegas was booked at the Merced County Jail. He’s being held in lieu of $50,000.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or