Merced is seeing a disturbing new trend - children being used to commit crimes

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Merced Police are hunting a gunman who walked up to two people outside their home -- and shot them.

There's been an increase in shootings, and police are seeing a disturbing new wave of criminals.

Neighbors are on edge after two people were shot just steps from their doorstep.

Police say a lone suspect walked up and point blank started shooting.

They say the call came in a little after 9 p.m. on Thursday night.

They say the suspect fired several rounds, some striking the apartment complex, while others struck the victims.

Neighbors tell us the victims were a 47-year-old man and his 22-year-old daughter.

"They're really nice, the daughter's really nice. They didn't do anything wrong," one neighbor says.

The suspect is still at large.

This is just one of the many shootings Merced police are investigating.

Just hours before, police arrested two people in connection with three separate shootings.

In July, a man was shot dead in the middle of the street along Merced and Rose Avenues.

Captain Bimley West says they often see an increase in shootings in the summer, but they're also seeing a new wave of criminals involving kids.

"They're utilizing many of the juveniles to commit these crimes thinking that juveniles are not going to be punished as long as adults," he says.

One resident, Victoria Berrera, added, "There's just more innocent victims and bystanders getting hurt for no reason."

Police say they're following several leads as they're determined to stop this string of shootings.

"We're using resources from VIPER as well as our detectives and gang units and working with other cities to apprehend these people," he says.

West is asking folks if they have any information on any of the recent shootings, to call investigators at the Merced Police Department.
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