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Young child witness to murder-suicide of parents
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On a day meant to celebrate love and commitment, a man shot to death his estranged girlfriend in front of their 8-year-old son and then turned the gun on himself.

The individuals have tentatively been identified by authorities as Ricardo Sanchez, Jr., 34, of Keyes and Janelle Godinez, 33, of Turlock.

The fatal shooting occurred just before 5:30 p.m. Monday in the 2900 block of Grand Oak Court, a neighborhood of newer model upscale homes near Pitman High School.

The couple had been in a long-term on-and-off again relationship and had one child together, said Turlock Police Lt. Ron Reid. Sanchez also has a 15-year-old son from a previous relationship. The couple was not living together at the time of the shooting.

Neither of them lived in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred. Sanchez does have extended family that lives a few blocks from the scene, Reid said. The two had met in the neighborhood for a custody exchange. Godinez was picking the son up from the father.

They had each parked their vehicles alongside the curb and Sanchez got into the Godinez’s sports utility vehicle. An argument of some sort transpired between the two before Sanchez pulled out a handgun and shot Godinez, then himself, Reid said.

Both had gunshot wounds to the upper torso. It’s unknown how many times Godinez was shot. Sanchez had a single gunshot wound, Reid said.

They were both pronounced dead at the scene.

The couple’s 8-year-old son was a witness to most of the gruesome encounter, Reid said.

In the moments leading up to the shooting residents had called the police department to report a disturbance in the area. After the shots rang out several people called emergency dispatch. The son ran the few blocks to his father’s family’s home and told them of the shooting, Reid said.

The 8-year-old is staying with his family and they have been put in touch with various victim advocate and counseling programs in the county, Reid said.

A handgun was recovered at the scene.

Reid said the police department had taken one prior report of a disturbance involving the couple, though it had not occurred recently. Investigators are speaking with other law enforcement agencies to see if they responded to any incidents involving the couple.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact Detective Jason Tosta at 668-5550 ext. 6624.

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