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Two Turlock teens wanted for fatal shooting
Turlock Diaz - photo by Photo Contributed
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department has identified the three homicide suspects involved in a fatal shooting outside a Riverbank convenience store and the wanted include two Turlock teenagers.The sheriff’s department is actively seeking Daniel Pantoja, 18, of Riverbank and Turlock Diaz, 14, and Jah-Kari Phyall, 15, both of Turlock, for the murder of Chaz Bettencourt, 21. All three should be considered armed and dangerous said sheriff spokesman Deputy Andrew Winter.The fatal shooting happened around 12:30 p.m. Thursday at an AM/PM store at the intersection of Highway 108 and Oakdale Road in Riverbank. Bettencourt and a friend had driven to the convenience store to buy soda and were accosted by the three suspects in the parking lot. The friend went back into the store to ask the clerk to call 911 and then heard several shots ring out. He ran out to find Bettencourt suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and the suspects fleeing on foot.Bettencourt was transported to Doctors Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.Detectives quickly began pouring over the evidence at the scene and interviewing the few witnesses that were known.  "Our detectives worked nearly nonstop," said Lt. Mick Hardenbrook, who heads the sheriff's department's homicide unit.Investigators were able to use video surveillance from the store to generate leads as to the suspects’ identities."It’s truly disturbing to see how these suspects attacked the victim like a pack of wolves," said Hardenbrook. “It's easy to see how anybody could have fallen victim to these murderers."On Friday the sheriff’s department Special Weapons and Tactics team helped serve out warrants at Diaz’s home in the 600 block of Columbia Avenue in Turlock and Pantoja’s Riverbank residence in the 3800 block of Stanislaus Street.Neither suspect was apprehended, but investigators stayed late into the night gathering clues.Phyall was identified later in the investigation and his home in the 300 block of South Avenue in Turlock was searched Monday night. He was not at the house, according to the sheriff’s department.The shooting is not gang-related, though Pantoja and Diaz have gang ties, Winter said. The sheriff’s department has identified which of the three fired the gun, though they are not releasing that information. It’s believed the three are in possession of more than one firearm.The news television station KCRA-TV reported that Pantoja is also wanted by the Redding Police Department for a beating that occurred outside a Circle K store in their jurisdiction.Given the violence of the crime the sheriff’s department made the decision to release the names of the minors."We're hoping someone out there will help us get these dangerous criminals off of the street," said Hardenbrook.Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact Detective McQueary at 525-7099.  Callers can also leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 521-4636.  Tipsters can also e-mail tips at, or text them to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus the message. Tipsters
are eligible for a cash reward.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.