Parlier shooting victim just released from jail


The full depth of a family tragedy became clear under the flashing blue and red lights of police cars. Neighbors say they've seen police at this apartment before and they heard a loud sound there again Wednesday night.

"Tried to figure out to myself, 'What was it?' if it was a firework or firecracker, you know," said a neighbor who didn't want to give his name. "So I was kind of nervous so I went outside and checked and the cops told us to come back into our apartment."

With everyone locked down in their apartments, Parlier police found Michael Lopez, Sr., gunned down in his home, and not by a stranger.

"It was believed the uncle and the nephew were engaged in this gun battle," said Parlier Police Chief David Cerda.

A family member witnessed the shooting and called 911, but police and Fresno County sheriff's detectives still don't have all the details. And by daylight, the witnesses refused to tell me their story.

"We don't want to talk to the news," said one of the witnesses. "Sorry."

Four members of the Lopez family lived in the apartment and tragedy has touched them once before in the same general location.

Police say Michael Lopez, Jr., was stabbed to death in April 2011, just outside the apartment complex. No suspects were ever caught.

In his father's death, officers arrested their suspect -- Robert Sampson Lopez -- the victim's 69-year-old uncle. They also seized evidence from the scene.

"Our officers did locate a weapon inside the residence and it was basically secured until the homicide division came out," said chief Cerda.

Robert Lopez has almost no criminal history, but Michael Lopez, Sr., is a different story. He's a repeat drug offender who had recently skipped court hearings where he was supposed to be sentenced to prison.

Sheriff's deputies arrested him on a warrant Tuesday, but he was out of jail eleven hours later. Eleven hours after that, he was dead -- his uncle taking his place in jail, facing murder charges.

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