Police say Winton shooting was drug related

FRESNO, Calif.

Merced County sheriffs are stepping up patrols in the Winton area. After the third shooting in less than a week. Two people were injured Thursday, and the sheriff says they were shot to protect a drug business.

Investigators are trying to identify the suspects who fired from one car into another Thursday as they chased people away from their illegal pot grow. Shattered glass and a missing mailbox are the only remaining indicators of the trouble that transpired on a Winton road. The sound of gunfire near his home will never disappear from the memory of one witness who didn't want to be identified.

"I got lucky I heard them," the man said "I was able to get some cover but it looked like they were shooting that way but still, if they would've shot back, I'm right here."

The man ran into his backyard after hearing two shots on the street in front of him. He was glad he took cover because the gunfight was not over.

"I heard several more shots afterwards, but before I heard those shots, I heard a car crash," the man said. "I heard a car crash and after that I heard maybe about nine more bullets."

Sheriff's deputies rushed to the scene and a Mercy air helicopter flew the victims to a Modesto hospital where they are alive and talking.

Merced County sheriff Mark Pazin says the victims are helping investigators find the shooters, but they may have put themselves in danger in the first place.

"There was some hint that the victims were supposedly looking for an illegal marijuana grow," Pazin said. "The suspects thought they were going to do a rip off."

Investigators say Thursdays shooting is not gang related an it is also not related to two other shootings in Winton over the last week.

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