Family of murdered former bouncer holds vigil in Merced

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The family of a North Valley murder victim is desperate for answers. Loved ones held a vigil at the Merced business where the former bouncer was killed. (KFSN)

In the North Valley, there's a renewed hope for answers in the murder of a former bouncer who was killed at the bar where he once worked. On Saturday night, family members, friends and police officers gathered for a candlelight vigil in Merced.

Many were emotional as they stood outside of the place where Ishmael Escalante was killed. They asked the community for help to solve the crime. Many bowed their heads and prayed as they stood together with one purpose -- healing and hope.

Patty Escalante, Ishmael's grandmother who also raised him, said, "I came a few times on my own during the week, during the month and for Valentine's Day to strengthen myself to prepare for a day like this."

Those who attended the vigil gathered in front of the now-closed "La Hacienda" bar. Back in December, Ishamel Escalante was shot and killed while standing in front of the place where he used to be a bouncer. Investigators say a masked suspect continued to shoot at him until he died.

Three months later and still no clues as to why he was killed and who did it. His loved ones held the candlelight vigil hoping to remind the community of the justice they still seek. Earlier in the day, they went to businesses in town to hand out fliers with details of the vigil and the unsolved crime.

Deanna Escalante, Ishmael's aunt, said, "I know it's hard and no one wants to get involved, but we need answers. He was a good kid. He was a good person. He was going to grow up to be something. He didn't get that because we were robbed of his life."

Family members say Ishmael was well-loved and wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. Investigators say they wanted to attend the vigil to show their support for the family and help move the case along. They don't believe Ishmael was in a gang.

Detective Joe Deliman with the Merced Police Department, said, "I take all opportunities to try to solve a case, and a lot of times being here...this is a very important part of it."

Detectives say they've received very few leads in the case. They're hoping that the vigil influences someone to come forward with information about the suspect.
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