Deadly Robbery in Visalia

October 13, 2008 6:38:48 PM PDT
South valley authorities are looking for two teenagers they say shot and killed a man during a robbery attempt.Neighbors say there are shootings so often in this area that they're scared to go to their neighborhood market at night. This latest shooting has put people even more on edge.

Pieces of police tape are still tied to a fence on north Encino Avenue in Visalia. Police say a man attending a family baptism party at this house on Saturday was accosted by two teenagers when he went outside to move a friend's car at around midnight. Police say the suspects demanded money from the victim but the victim said he didn't have any.

Sgt. Ernie Villa of the Visalia Police Dept. said, "One of the witnesses said they saw what appeared to be the subjects appeared to be patting him down and shortly thereafter several shots were heard by the witnesses there at the party."

Sgt. Villa says the victim, identified as 34-year old Sergio Lonbera, was shot several times in the back. The shooting startled neighbors.

Reuben Rodriguez said, "I heard the shots four times and I was in my room watching TV and I heard someone shot four times so I shut my TV off and I looked out of the window."

Rodriguez says he saw the victim lying on the ground. People who live in this neighborhood say they no longer go to a nearby market after dark because they often hear guns going off.

Rodriguez said, "That's why I don't go out at night and I don't trust people around here."

Kasey Yotsoubanh said, "Unsafe ? It's kind of scary and ? it doesn't make you feel safe around the block."

Police don't have a description of the suspects, only that they were wearing dark clothing and were between the ages of 17 and 19.

Sgt. Villa said, "It appears to be a crime of opportunity due to the fact that they saw several people attending a party and someone came out from that party and they tried a robbery which obviously may or may not have gained them some money."

This was Visalia's 7th homicide of the year... They said when they found the victim, his wallet was missing. Not gang-related and they're asking anyone with information to call them immediately.

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