Homicide detectives look for clues in Mendota murders

MENDOTA, Calif.

Rene Leon, 22, and Daniel, his 15-year-old brother, were shot and killed early Sunday morning. The drive-by shooting happened during a family party at a house on Stamoules near 8th Street in Mendota. Detectives said three others were injured that night in separate related shootings.

According to family and friends, Rene and Daniel were good kids and not involved in gangs. They were shot at their aunt and uncle's house.

A memorial is growing at the home where the brothers grew up. People have been stopping by to offer their condolences as the family begins the process of making funeral arrangements.

Freddy Leon is still haunted by what happened in front of his aunt and uncles' home early Sunday morning. The 20-year-old, along with his two brothers, Rene and Daniel, were standing among dozens of family and friends, when a series of shots rang out.

"Everything blanked out on me. All I saw was my brothers fall and I picked them up, and I said, you guys can't be doing this to me, wake up, wake up," said Freddy Leon.

Witnesses say a man followed the gunman. Minutes later, and about a mile away, that man was also shot on Black and Thoreson in Mendota.

Two additional victims showed up at the hospital later that morning.

Freddy said he never saw the gunmen and has no idea who could have done this. Mendota Unified school officials are also stunned. "For me personally, just as anyone else who is hearing this news -- it's heartbreaking," said Mendota High School Principal Gloria Bowlin were Rene once attended.

Daniel was a student at the nearby continuation school, but grew up with Mendota's current freshman class. Administrators at both campuses spoke to their students about the shooting Monday. They also made counselors available.

"It's not just some individual students that may have been close with them, it impacts us as a whole. There's a whole different feel on our campus today," said Principal Bowlin.

As the Mendota community continues to heal, detectives from the Fresno County Sheriff's Office are following up on several leads. Family members hope those tips will lead to justice soon so can move forward. "I'm the oldest one now, and I got to remember that without me moving forward, things will never happen the right way," said Freddy Leon.

Family and friends plan to hold a vigil Monday night in front of the family's home at 7 p.m.

Rene and Daniel's deaths mark the first and second murders of the year in Mendota. If you have any information, call the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

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