Fresno murder suspect dies after shootout with Southern California authorities, police say

At least 20 shots were fired in the span of less than a minute, officials say.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A man suspected of killing his mother in Fresno was shot to death in a gun battle with police more than 250 miles away in Southern California.

Officers were trying to track down 34-year-old Nick Costales after his mother was found dead Sunday night.



The search ended Monday when the stolen Kia Optima he was driving was spotted on the 10 Freeway in Montclair.

Officers say Costales pulled off the freeway and stepped out of the car firing. After an exchange of gunfire, Costales was dead.

The Fresno man had been unemployed and staying with his mom, Thelma Vasquez.

When Thelma didn't show up for a get together this weekend, her family got worried.

"She was found inside her residence. She did not answer her phone calls for a couple of days, had not gone to a family gathering that many of her family members expected her to be at," said Fresno Police Lt. Larry Bowlan.

When her family stopped by her house, they made the grisly discovery.




Officers also noticed Costales was missing, along with his mother's car. But before the shootout that ended his life. detectives were able to get a full confession.

"Homicide detectives after speaking with family were able to record a phone conversation that Nick had and in that conversation Nick Costales actually admitted to killing his mother," said Lt. Bowlan.

Family says Costales was a Marine who did a tour in Afghanistan. Officers say he struggled with drug abuse and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

But his mother's love knew no bounds. Loved ones say Thelma was generous and would do anything to help her sons.

Officers aren't saying how she was killed, only that she had obvious signs of trauma.

Detectives believe the victim was dead for two to four days before she was discovered. A motive is still unknown.
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