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Hughson men killed in exchange of gunfire

Hughson men killed in exchange of gunfire

Sheriff Adam Christianson is briefed in front of St. Mary’s Catholic Church about a standoff a block down on Seventh Street in Hughson.


POSTED July 25, 2012 2:27 p.m.

The two men found dead at a Hughson home that was the scene of a stand-off with law enforcement Wednesday afternoon were killed in an exchange of gunfire with each other, according to law enforcement.

The shooting occurred after a slow speed pursuit ended with an armed man running into a Hughson home in the 1800 block of 7th Street.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department identified the victim as 45-year-old Nick Kounias of Hughson.

The suspect was identified as John Szuggar, 52, of Hughson.

Szuggar’s erratic behavior was first reported to the sheriff’s department around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday when a family member reported him as armed and threatening suicide. As deputies were responding to the scene on Eaton Road, the individual reported Szuggar left in a Dodge pickup.

A deputy spotted the pickup on Albers Road moments later. The deputy followed the pickup until back-up units arrived, at which time he activated his lights and siren in an attempt to pull Szuggar over, said sheriff spokesman Deputy Royjindar Singh.

Szuggar gave no notice of the patrol cars behind him and continued driving at a normal speed southbound on Geer Road, Singh said.

The slow speed pursuit continued as Szuggar made his way into Hughson.

Szuggar stopped his truck in front of a home in the 1800 block of 7th Street and ran inside a residence. Within seconds of Szuggar entering the home the first shot rang out, Singh said.

The initial shot was followed by several more. A woman ran out of the home and told deputies that there was still someone in the house.

Law enforcement set up a perimeter around the area and began the process of evacuating neighboring homes and calling out the Special Weapons and Tactics team.

The SWAT team made entry into the home, where they found Kounias and Szuggar dead from gunshot wounds.

It is unknown at this time which man fired the first shot. Sheriff’s investigators believe Kounias was likely acting in self-defense.

Evidence collected from the crime scene has been sent to the state crime lab for testing.

Szuggar had previously lived on 7th Street in Hughson. According to the sheriff’s department and other neighbor, the two men had been engaged in an ongoing feud with one another.

Detectives are still investigating to determine why Szuggar ended the pursuit at Kounias’ home.

Anyone with information about this case can call the Detective Darwin Hatfield at 525-7100. Callers can also leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 521-INFO (4636). Tipsters can also e-mail tips at http://www.modestopolice.com/CrimeStoppers, or text them to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus the message and be eligible for a cash reward.

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