Tow Truck Driver Shot and Killed in Merced

November 25, 2008 6:37:40 PM PST
Merced police say a tow truck driver was shot to death Monday night after he tried to stop a man who stole from his company.Officers say the victim was out looking for a man who had stolen a service truck from his towing company. They say he spotted the stolen vehicle around 10:30 and confronted the driver. But that's when the suspect pulled out a gun.

Employees at Performance Towing in Merced are too devastated by the murder of their manager, Randall Armendariz, to speak on camera. But they say he was a hard-working man, a great friend, and a loving father of four. Now as they try to cope with his loss, Merced police are piecing together the circumstances surrounding his death.

Cmdr. Floyd Higdon of the Merced Police Dept.said, "We received a call at about 10:38 last night that we had some shots fired at the intersection of Ruby Court and Carmel Road.

When officers arrived at this cul-de-sac, they found Armendariz lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head. Neighbors watched as emergency workers tried unsuccessfully to revive the 41 year old.

"There was cops everywhere, and they barricaded the whole area around here," said Mike Huizar.

Police say they also found the victim's vehicle and a truck that was reported stolen earlier in the evening at the scene.

"Both of the engines were running on both vehicles, the doors were open," said Cmdr. Higdon.

Investigators believe the man who shot Armendariz had taken the truck from Performance Towing. Another driver for the company spotted the stolen vehicle Monday evening and called his co-workers. They decided to look for the suspect themselves. Police say Armendariz somehow stopped the man in this neighborhood. Witnesses told officers the two men had an argument before the suspect pulled out a handgun, fired at least one shot, and ran from the scene.

"There is some information we are trying to track down, but at this point no arrests have been made," said Cmdr. Higdon.

Investigators are asking anyone with information in this case to call the Merced Police Department. They also want to remind residents not to confront criminals themselves.

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