Fresno man arrested for parents' murders, fifth similar case in five months

Police say Julian McElhaney was arrested Sunday after officers found him sitting on the front lawn of his parents' house.

Alyssa Flores Image
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Fresno man arrested for parents' murders, 5th similar case in 6 months
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A family is in shock after a 22-year-old man allegedly shot and killed his parents at their northeast Fresno home Sunday afternoon.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A family is in shock after a 22-year-old man allegedly shot and killed his parents at their northeast Fresno home Sunday afternoon.

Julian McElhaney is charged with murdering his parents last night, and his alleged crime shares some similarities with four other recent cases.

A 911 call about shots fired alerted police to a home just north of Bullard Avenue.

"They found the suspect, who was waiting for them out in front," said Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama.

Julian McElhaney wasn't far from his dead father on the lawn. His mother was dead inside the house.

Police say Julian admitted what he'd done.

"The suspect was cooperative," Chief Balderrama said. "He's the one who called 911, stated that he shot his family and he did give up when officers arrived."

Will McElhaney worked in plant operations at Clovis Unified for 19 years and had a side business installing carpet and flooring.

He and his wife, Sylvia, lived in this home for more than a decade raising three kids and helping to raise nieces and nephews.

One of them told us the McElhaneys were amazing people and the whole family is devastated.

Police tell Action News they had one prior call for service at the house in 2018 and it involved Julian.

Neighbors said the family was extremely helpful and friendly, and they'll be missed.

"I am just sorry I lost them. I am very sorry I lost them," one of them told us on the condition we wouldn't use her name.

Balderrama says investigators don't exactly know why Julian would've killed his parents.

It's the fifth time since November that an adult has killed or tried to kill a parent in Fresno County -- Eduardo Amaya in March, Rahmad Parke in January, Austin Alvarez in December, and Bretton Begaye in November.

Julian's muddled motive links the previous four cases to this one.

"It is possible there are some mental health issues associated with this case," the police chief said.

Chief Balderrama says 90% of Fresno's homicides in 2021 involved guns.

Balderrama says people with mental illness should not have access to guns but didn't know if Julian had any restrictions.

"Most people who are mentally ill do not harm other people but when there's a lot of stresses going on, it puts people on the edge," says Criminal Psychologist Dr. Eric Hickey.

Dr. Hickey says tension brought on by the pandemic could be a part of what's contributing to the disturbing trend. He says regardless of mental illness or health status, calling 911 when violence escalates can mean the difference between life or death.

"We are not trying to get people in trouble," he said. "We are trying to deescalate what is going on and sometimes, we don't realize how serious it is until it's too late."

Fresno's chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness says mental health issues are rampant and it's currently difficult to get help with mental health practitioners swamped with cases and clients.