Double murder investigation continues in Winton

Deputies are looking for the motive behind a shooting in Winton that left two people dead and sent another to the hospital.
March 21, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Merced County Sheriff's deputies are looking for the motive behind a shooting that left two people dead and sent another to the hospital.

The shooting happened Thursday night inside the garage of a home on Onxy and Alyssa in Winton.

Family members say they were just hanging out in the garage, when masked men approached the victim's and started shooting at the three men inside. Deputies say three people were shot several times. The lone survivor is in the hospital in serious condition. The man who lives in the house survived the attack and tried to tell family members what happened.

"My uncle said, he was injured, but he said there was like four or six, but their face was covered so he didn't even know who it was," said Martha Pedraca, a victim's relative.

Pedraca says her uncle, 50-year-old Fulgencio Gaytan, is in the hospital but is expected to survive. Pedraca says the other two men in the garage were her uncle's friend, 30-year-old Juan Cruz, and the homeowner's son-in-law, 30-year-old Helder Menera.

Menera leaves behind a 1-year-old daughter and a pregnant wife. The couple lives in Atwater and was visiting that night.

"My cousin, he was a loving father. He was really responsible, hardworking and funny at times too," said Pedraca.

Investigators haven't confirmed how many men were involved, or if they were wearing masks. They also haven't determined a motive.

"It's too early to tell. I couldn't possibly pinpoint why or how. It's under investigation," Deputy Ed Katen with the Merced County Sheriff's Department.

Katen says these two deaths now mark the third homicide in Winton since January. He also adds there have been numerous reports of gunfire and shootings in the small town. Just last week, deputies arrested nine suspected gang members in connection to a Winton homicide last December.

While investigators continue to piece together clues, Pedraca says her family is searching for answers. She says her uncle and cousin were hard-working people. She says Gaytan worked at a dairy and Menera worked at a packing house, and she doesn't believe they were involved in anything illegal. Family members say they are working on funeral plans.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the Merced County Sheriff's Department.

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