Two Dead, Three Injured in Merced County Shooting

Winton, Calif.         |   Watch Video Above for More Information on this Story   |

Sheriff Mark Pazin says the gunmen snuck up on the victims on foot and opened fire. Now investigators are asking for the public's help in tracking down whoever is responsible.

Merced County Sheriff's Detectives returned to the Winton neighborhood on Thursday where signs of the deadly shooting remain. Investigators say three to four gunmen fired as many as 40 rounds.

Neighbor Jerry Alaniz said, "I thought it was lightning. It sounded rapidly like firecrackers."

Jerry Alaniz says the shooting has created a sense of fear in the neighborhood. And for family and friends of the two young men who were killed, it has left an overwhelming sense of loss.

Relatives of 21 year old Andres Rodriguez did not want to speak on camera, but they say he was happy and full of life despite a previous shooting that left him in a wheelchair. Those closest to 18 year old Abraham Valenzuela say he left behind a baby girl. Valenzuela's 39 year old father and 23 year old friend were also shot, along with a 32 year old woman who just happened to be walking in the area with her young son.

Sheriff Mark Pazin said, "She was standing next to her 4 year old son and so, by the grace of God go I, he was not struck by the number of rounds that were discharged by these thugs."

Sheriff Pazin describes the shooting as a savage ambush on the five men who were in this front yard around 9:30 Wednesday night. Detectives believe the attack was gang related because one of the victims was a validated gang member.

"Regardless if they had any criminal interaction previously, it's just not right, and we just can't tolerate that," said Sheriff Pazin.

Sheriff Pazin says more deputies will now be assigned to the Winton area, and he's also working with the chairman of the multi-agency gang task force to stop the cycle of violence.

The three victims who survived the shooting are expected to recover from their wounds. We've also learned that a two year old child was inside the home at the time, but was not injured.

Anyone with information about this shooting is being asked to contact the Sheriff's Department, and you can remain anonymous.

Stay with ABC30 and for the latest on this developing story ..

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