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Merced Sheriff: Woman escapes injury in Planada drive-by shooting

A drive-by shooting in Planada late Tuesday nearly killed a 40-year-old woman, but she ducked and escaped injury, the Merced County Sheriff's Department reported.

At 11 p.m. Tuesday, deputies received a call about a drive-by shooting in Planada. The victim said she was waiting to make a left turn onto Redondo Road from Arguello Road. A small gray car passed going in the opposite direction, and she heard several gunshots coming from the vehicle, according to deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman.

The victim drove to a relative's house in Merced before calling the Sheriff's Department. She told deputies she believes she was followed by the vehicle but managed to escape.

Deputies checked the car and found several bullet holes, including two through the driver's side rear passenger window and two through the driver's head rest.

If the victim hadn't ducked, there is a strong likelihood she would have been struck in the head, MacKenzie said.

Neither the victim nor her husband have ties to gangs. But detectives checked department records and noticed her two teenage sons have associated with criminal street gangs in Planada.

Investigators believe that rival gang members recognized the victim's vehicle and possibly associated it with a rival gang or gang associates.

Detectives are asking anyone with information to call the Merced County Sheriff's Department at (209) 385-7472.