Homeless man killed, another wounded in shooting near Merced

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Investigations are underway into a shooting early on New Year's Day in the North Valley just outside Merced, which claimed a person's life.

It happened around 3 a.m. on Tuesday. The victim was a homeless man, living under the highway 99 freeway overpass south of the city.

Another homeless man was wounded in the shooting.

Sheriff Vern Warnke says it's not clear why the men were shot, or who shot them.

"A lot of these folks take refuge wherever they can and we don't know at this point why this specific one was identified or targeted," Warnke said.

The wounded man managed to run to a farmhouse and call for help. He couldn't provide any information about who fired the shots.

Shell casings were found on the front gate road along highway 99. But its not yet clear if this was a drive by.

Other homeless people in the area are being questioned, but with all the overnight gun fire from New Years celebrations nobody noticed the shots fired at the men.

Investigators are trying to figure out if if this was a random shooting at a homeless camp, and if other homeless people could be targets.

"We have a homeless situation in this county that is very prevalent in all counties up and down the state."

Warnke says it's unfortunate because Merced County can provide housing for many of the homeless but he says most don't seem to want any help.

The wounded man was treated at a local hospital and released.

The dead man has been identified but his family hasn't been notified. He's described as a middle aged white male.
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