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Gun discharge lands three in jail
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Three Ballico men started the New Year off by sitting in a Merced County Jail cell for shooting a gun into the air.

Around 6:30 a.m. Saturday the Merced County Sheriff’s Department received a call about three men shooting a handgun into the air in the 11000 block of Santa Fe Road. The caller reported the suspects had left in a dark colored four door Honda.

After deputies spotted the car and made a felony vehicle stop at El Capitan and Palm Avenue, the three occupants; Rigoberto Garcia, 27, Luis Acosta, 24, and Salvador Madrigal, 21, were detained.

After searching the vehicle, deputies found a .45 semi automatic pistol in the trunk, said sheriff spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie. After questioning the suspects, all three admitted to drinking all night to celebrate the New Year, and firing the gun off at midnight. When they woke up in the morning, they said they decided to finish off firing the remaining ammo they had, MacKenzie said.

The gun was not registered and appeared to belong to the United States Army, but was not reported stolen, MacKenzie said.

All three were arrested on charges of discharging a firearm in a negligent manner and conspiracy to commit a crime. Acosta and Madrigal are being held without bail pending deportation proceedings.

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