Homicide Investigation in Chowchilla

March 31, 2008 7:36:34 PM PDT
Chowchilla police are investigating the city's first homicide of the year. But some of Bruce Eckerfield's friends are calling his death a "tragic accident".This restaurant and bar is by all accounts a quiet place that normally causes no problems for police. But Saturday night a deadly fight turned this local hangout into a crime scene.

Witness: "It was just a casual night out. Everyone just sitting around relaxing and I think something just went wrong."

This woman, who did not want to be identified, was out with friends at the Farnesi's Steakhouse Bar when a fight broke out Saturday night. Chowchilla police say it's still unclear what led to the brawl between 28 year old John Raviscioni and 50 year old Bruce Eckerfield. But the bar's owner tells action news during the fight, Eckerfield fell backwards and hit his head on the ground.

Witness: "We could just hear em say, get em out, get em out, get away, get away, and then they said he wasn't breathing and they had to call an ambulance and it just was tragic from them on."

When police and paramedics arrived at the bar, they found Eckerfield unconscious.

Sgt. David Noblett, Chowchilla Police Dept.: "After medical attention was provided, paramedics pronounced Mr. Eckerfield deceased at the scene."

Police arrested Ravscioni at a home in this Chowchilla neighborhood. It's the same development where Eckerfield lived.

Tom DuBose, Victim's Friend: "He was a neighbor of mine and his wife was a nurse, and he was active in the car business, active in the community."

Tom DuBose says he was shocked to learn about his friend's death. But he isn't blaming Raviscioni.

Dubose: "Just feel he was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The witness we spoke with agrees.

Witness: "It's just a terrible thing. He was a very nice man, and I feel sorry for both sets of families."

Police could not comment on the specifics of the fight because it is still under investigation. But they say Eckerfield did have a cut on the back of his head and bruising around his face. The Madera County District Attorney's is waiting to review the case before filing formal charges.


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