Avenal mourning first murder victim of year

FRESNO, Calif.

They're looking for a group of gang members they say shot and killed a man and stabbed two other young men.

The attacked happened Sunday morning at the corner of Stanislaus Street and A Street in Avenal.

Police have no suspects in custody but say they're much closer to making an arrest.

Candles, roses and handmade crosses mark the site where a 20-year-old Avenal resident was gunned down early Sunday morning.

The memorial sits across the street where police say a group of Norteno gang members were partying before brutally attacking three young men including Albert Alcala.

Neighbor Eloisa Valle says she woke up after hearing several gunshots Sunday just before 3 a.m. That's when she ran outside and saw Alcala's body on the ground.

Similar witness accounts are helping police solve this crime.

"We feel very good where the investigation is right now and we're hoping that we'll lead to identification of suspects and ultimately an arrest," Jack Amarosa of the Avenal Police Department said.

Avenal police say Alcala was walking down Stanislaus Street with his brother and two friends when they were confronted by several gang members.

Investigators say Alcala was shot multiple times while his two friends were stabbed. The motive for the attack is unknown.

"Right now we're not tying them into any gang activity. This was without question an unprovoked attack," Amarosa said.

The family of the victim did not want to speak on camera but describe Alcala as a friendly and outgoing. Police say the suspects are not from the area.

Avenal Mayor Harlin Casida says his city has been struggling with outside gang activity for years.

"We've had other people from our neighboring communities around here come here and try to cause trouble," Casida said.

While police search for the suspects a community is still mourning one of their own and hoping for an end to violence.

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