A Turlock man will be facing attempted murder charges for engaging in a gun battle with local law enforcement after leading them on a lengthy car chase.
Kevin William Mayhew, 40, is charged in Merced County Superior Court with two counts of attempted murder of a peace officer with an enhancement of using a firearm. Additionally, he is charged with felony evading a peace officer and being a felon in possession of a weapon.
Mayhew has not entered a plea to the charges and does not have an attorney at this time. An arraignment was set for March 20 in Merced County Superior Court. Mayhew remains in custody in lieu of a $1.4 million bail.
Mayhew is the subject of an on-going investigation related to a fatal shooting in Turlock in which a suspected burglar was killed by a homeowner. On Oct. 31, 2016, Juy Gastelo, 30, of Turlock, was fatally shot while allegedly breaking into a home in the 300 block of N. Thor Street, according to the Turlock Police Department. Gastelo was shot by the homeowner, who reported it to the police and claimed he caught the suspect breaking in. The name of the homeowner was not released at the time, but in a news release regarding the pursuit and shooting, the Turlock Police Department stated the home on N. Thor is owned by Mayhew.
“Our job is to verify if that was the totality of the circumstances in order to determine if the homicide was justifiable or not,” Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar said at a press conference Friday afternoon.
On Thursday, the Turlock Police Department was readying to serve multiple search warrants related to the investigation, including one for Mayhew’s residence in the 300 block of N. Thor Street. Officers in the neighborhood noticed Mayhew loading items into a vehicle, including a rifle case, and then leaving the area. An attempt was made to pull him over in the area of Quincy Road and Hawkeye Avenue, but Mayhew refused to yield and sped away.
The pursuit wound its way through Turlock and eventually into Merced County, the city of Merced and eventually in to Snelling. Amirfar said the pursuit lasted well over an hour and reached speeds of 60 miles per hour. Multiple spike strips were deployed and finally proved successful on Snelling Road when Mayhew’s vehicle was disabled with flat tires.
Mayhew got out of the vehicle and immediately started shooting an assault rifle at the officers and the deputies, who returned fire, striking Mayhew one time. He sustained a grazing wound and was taken by air ambulance to a Modesto hospital. After treatment, he was transported back to Merced and booked into the Merced County Jail.
None of the officers and deputies were injured in the exchange of gunfire, though a couple of the sheriff’s patrol cars were hit, resulting in shattered windowshields and destroyed computers.
Three deputies from the Merced County Sheriff’s Department, two officers from the Merced Police Department and one officer from the Turlock Police Department were involved in the shooting. All six of the officers and deputies fired at Mayhew.
On Tuesday, the names of the law enforcement involved in the shooting were released by their agencies. The Turlock Police officer involved in the shooting is Officer Adam Neep, a two-year veteran of the department. Neep has no prior reports of using deadly force with a firearm and rendered aid to Mayhew once he surrendered, according to Turlock Police spokesperson Sgt. Neil Cervenka.
The Merced County Sheriff’s deputies involved in the shooting are Jesus Meraz, Derek Bethel and Robert Hawkins. Officer Joseph Opinski and Sgt. Brian Rodriguez, both from the Merced Police Department, were also involved in the incident.
Department and has not been involved in any prior uses of deadly force with a firearm. The Merced County Sheriff is currently investigating the incident and has not yet determined which of the six officers who discharged their firearms struck the suspect.
The search of Mayhew’s home and vehicle turned up numerous firearms. On his Facebook page, he has several pictures of firearms he said he built and uses the hashtag “guntreasure” that he describes as his practice of burying firearm parts and then posting a photo of the area as a clue for seekers.
Mayhew is the son of Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge William Mayhew. In 2002 he was convicted of vandalism for shooting out several windows of businesses in Modesto and Turlock with a sling shot. Court records indicate a petition was later granted to have the conviction dismissed after Mayhew served his sentence.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to call Merced County Sheriff’s Detective Jose Silva at (209) 385-7472. You can also contact the Turlock Police Department’s Tip Line at 209-668-5550 extension 6780 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.