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Four held in teens’ shooting

POSTED September 3, 2010 10:20 p.m.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Department has arrested four suspects in connection with a shooting that wounded two teenagers talking outside a Planada home Monday night.

Investigators believe the boy and girl were targets of the attack because the boy was wearing the color of a rival gang. Neither victim has any ties to gangs, said sheriff spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie.

Both the victims survived the shooting, but only time will tell to the extent of their injuries.

The shooting occurred around 10:45 p.m. Monday in the 9000 block of Broadway Avenue in Planada.

According to the sheriff’s department, the suspects drove by the teens several times. Then on one pass, they stopped the car, got out and opened fire upon the 17-year olds.

The girl was hit once in the head and the boy was struck in the upper rear thigh, MacKenzie said. Both were air-lifted to a Modesto hospital, where they underwent surgery for their injuries, MacKenzie said.

Investigators believe the two teenagers were targeted by the four suspects because the boy was wearing a blue sweatshirt and the suspects belong to a rival gang that wears red, MacKenzie said.

Detectives served out a search warrant Tuesday in the 1500 block of Ellen Court in Merced where they took Ramon Munoz, 22, and a 17-year-old male into custody. They also found guns during the search that are believed to be the weapons used in the Monday night attack. Forensic testing on the guns is pending.

Also on Tuesday, detectives took Ezquiel Castillo, 20, into custody during a vehicle stop in Merced.

The final suspect, Johnny Munoz, 21, was apprehended shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday when detectives served a search warrant at an apartment in the 200 block of Mimi Lane in Merced.

All four suspects were booked on attempted murder with gang enhancements and conspiracy to commit a crime and remain in jail in lieu of a $600,000 bail each.

In reaction to the shooting, organizers are holding a prayer walk in Planada. The walk starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at Houlihan Park at 9167 Stanford Ave. The event is to promote peace and healing in the community and end gang violence.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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