Female bar fight escalates to deadly shooting in Central Fresno

September 27, 2013 5:32:51 AM PDT
A bar fight between two women spilled into an alleyway, and ended with a beating and deadly gunfire. Police say another man shot and killed Branden Cervantez right about closing time at Nick's in West Central Fresno.

Police shut down the alleyway for most of the day as they collected evidence. The scene was a real mess because at least seven people were involved in the fight, but homicide investigators are confident they're closing in on the killer.

By the time an ambulance rushed away from Nick's bar it was too late for Branden Cervantez. Police say the 30-year-old got mixed up in a fight that originally involved two women inside the bar. Ultimately, he was alone in the alley with several angry men.

"The victim was struck several times and a male shooter shot the victim several times before fleeing in a light-colored vehicle," said Fresno police Lt. Mark Salazar.

Police don't yet know the motive for the murder. They say Cervantez may have initially tried to break up the bar fight.

But as a fan of the St. Louis Rams, he may have stood out on a night his team played the San Francisco 49ers, and for one reason or another, he became a target.

"It was a 49er game last night," Lt. Salazar said. "There were some 49er fans there. There were also some people that looked like gang members."

Most of the suspects and witnesses took off after the shooting, but police detained two people at the scene.

In the hours that followed, investigators rounded up several more possible witnesses, but they haven't caught up to the shooter yet.

"We have leads," Lt. Salazar said. "We have people inside the building right now we're talking to, so we're pretty confident we'll be able to solve this."

Neighboring businesses were closed at the time of the shooting, but owners told me the bar sometimes draws a bad crowd.

They blame another fight there for the driveby shooting that left bullet holes in the liquor store to the east and the flower shop to the west.

Cervantez worked for a paint store and leaves behind a wife and three sons.

Branden Cervantez's family has set up a memorial account to help with funeral services. Please visit usaa.com to send donations.

Bank Account # 163321175

Transit/Routing # 314074269


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