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Near miss in drive-by

POSTED March 18, 2011 7:38 p.m.

A woman escaped a drive-by shooting in Planada Tuesday night unharmed after she was mistakenly targeted by suspected gang members, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department reported.

The 40-year-old woman’s vehicle was struck several times during the shooting. Sheriff spokesman Deputy Tom Mackenzie said two bullets went through the rear driver side window and two bullets pierced the driver side head rest.

“If the victim had not ducked, there is a strong likelihood that she would have been struck in the head,” MacKenzie said.

The shooting happened around 11 p.m. in the area of Redondo and Arguello roads. According to the sheriff’s department, the woman was waiting to make a left hand turn onto Arguello when a small grey car passed her going in the opposite direction and she heard several gun shots ring out.

The victim drove away quickly and continued driving to a relative’s home in Merced, where she contacted law enforcement. The woman told deputies she thought she was followed for a period of time by the suspect vehicle, but eventually lost them.

Neither the victim nor her husband have any ties to gang affiliation, MacKenzie said. However a check of the sheriff’s departmental records showed that the woman’s two teenage sons have associated with criminal street gangs out of Planada, MacKenzie said.  Investigators believe that rival gang members recognized the victim’s vehicle and possibly associated it with a rival gang or gang associates.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact the Merced Sheriff’s Office at 385-7472.

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

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