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Arrest made in death of Delhi teen

Arrest made in death of Delhi teen

Juan Gonzalez, 18, was taken into custody Monday and booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of murder.


POSTED August 21, 2009 10:55 p.m.
Merced County Sheriff’s detectives have arrested an 18-year-old Delhi man for the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old Delhi teen in Hilmar.
Juan Gonzalez, 18, was taken into custody Monday and booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of murder. He is being held without bail, said sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie.
Because the investigation of the shooting death of Saul Lopez is still ongoing, the sheriff’s department is releasing few details about the arrest and identification of Gonzalez as a suspect.
The shooting occurred around 10:30 p.m. Saturday at a party in the 22000 block Bloss Road in Hilmar.
Gonzalez allegedly told a sheriff’s detective he was at the party and that the gun “accidentally” went off about six to 12 inches away from where Lopez was standing.
According to the autopsy report, it is unlikely the shooter was standing that close to Lopez when he was shot, MacKenzie said.
Lopez was driven to the McDonald’s at American and Lander avenues and was found bleeding and stumbling down the road by a cousin and a friend.
The two put Lopez into the back of the car and called 911, MacKenzie said. Lopez was air-lifted to Doctors Medical Center where he underwent emergency surgery. One bullet was removed from his abdomen, but Lopez later died from his wound, MacKenzie said.
“The circumstances leading up to the shooting are still under investigation, as is why he was taken to a McDonald’s instead of a hospital,” MacKenzie said.
The sheriff’s department said the shooting was gang-related and that most of the witnesses had gang affiliations and were uncooperative with investigators. Gonzalez is an active gang member, MacKenzie said.
This was the 13th homicide in Merced County for the year and the first in Hilmar in 10 years.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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