2 dead and 3 injured in Mendota shootings


The brothers were killed around 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning on Stamoules and 8th Street in Mendota. A short time later at least one other person was shot on Black Street near Sorensen. It's not yet clear where the other two shootings happened.

Family members of the two brothers who are now dead said they are 22-year-old Rene Leon and his younger brother 15-year-old Daniel Leon. Mendota Police and the Fresno County Sheriff's Department are still looking for the person or people responsible for all five shootings.

Family and friends consoled each other on Sunday. A birthday party at a house in Mendota was still going strong earlier in the morning.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Department says around 3:30 a.m., two people were shot and killed at the house. Elma Espinoza, the victims' cousin, was woken up by terrified screams moments after the shots were fired. "I put on my shoes and ran outside and started praying. I just started praying for my cousins. I kneeled down by their sides, they were shot in the head, I started just praying for them."

Detectives say they have dozens of witnesses that may hold the key to solving the murders. "There were 50 to 70 people here when the Mendota Police Department arrived. It was pretty chaotic as you could expect," said Leo Lopez with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department.

Witnesses said a man from the party got in this white pick-up truck and followed a car he believed to be involved in the shooting. The car he was following stopped on Black Street, the man got out of his truck, and was shot. He ran to a nearby house to get help.

Police said two other people showed up to the hospital with gunshot wounds as well. "We believe all 5 are associated to this incident, in one way or another."

In the meantime, Espinoza said she doesn't know who killed her cousins but she's praying for them. "I forgive whoever did it to my cousins."

Detectives with the Sheriff's Department are handling the case for Mendota Police. They said at this point they're not sure if these shootings are gang related. The exact conditions of the three surviving shooting victims have not been released yet and no arrests have been made.

The incident marks the first and second homicides of the year in Mendota.

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