Fatal shootout between cars shutdown Highway 99 near Merced

FRESNO, Calif.

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The deadly shootout in Merced forced investigators to shut down the northbound lanes between Franklin and Buhach for several hours Wednesday night. It has since re-opened.

Deputies say just before 8 p.m. Wednesday night, calls started pouring in about an overturned car off the road. Investigators discovered someone had fired several bullets at the car before it crashed into the backyard of a house.

Deputies say the man driving the car had a number of gunshot wounds and died at the scene. Detectives believe it was gang related.

"I don't wanna panic the public that there's some maniac up and down Highway 99 with a road rage incident, but we believe through preliminary investigation that there are gang overtones," said Mark Pazin with the Merced County Sheriff's Department.

Deputies say a motorcyclist tried to help the victim after the crash. They're hoping that person will come forward with information.

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