Merced Teen Killed in Double Shooting

Fresno, CA, USA This is the neighborhood where Merced police found 15 year old Emilio Lozano laying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head Monday evening. He, and a 17 year old who was shot in the abdomen, were rushed to the hospital where Lozano was pronounced dead.

Cmdr. Floyd Higdon said, "It's a shame that anyone that young has to die through violence."

Commander Floyd Higdon says officers are now searching for the killer, but they haven't had much help from witnesses.

"Nobody is willing to say what they actually saw," said Higdon.

This is the 11th homicide in Merced this year. That's four more than all of 2007, and the first increase the city has seen since 2004. Authorities say the rising rate may be due in part to the recession and an increase in gang violence.

"We believe this one may be gang related. We're not absolutely sure of that. Those type of homicides are impossible to predict," said Higdon.

But Merced police are trying to prevent more kids from joining gangs by working with schools and other community groups to spread awareness and offer alternatives. The department is also involved in the Merced County Gang Task Force. The agency was formed last year and has already documented more than 50 gangs and 5000 gang members.

"Now you're going to see putting that intelligence to good work," said Chief Richard Hawthorne.

Task Force Chairman Richard Hawthorne says that includes targeting the hierarchy of each gang and possibly pursuing injunctions that could make it illegal for members to associate with each other.

"We have begun to make a difference, but it takes time," said Hawthorne.


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