Police say shootings may be related
by PI Staff
Apr 07, 2011 | 3349 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Police are investigating the possibility that three local shootings in the past two weeks may be tied together.

Those incidents include shots fired on the 100 block of East Las Palmas Avenue on March 23, gunfire on First Street and Unidad Court on March 30 and the shooting of a 20-year-old woman on West Las Palmas Avenue near Sixth Street early Wednesday, April 6.

“Preliminary investigations are showing that it’s all the same core group of people that we’re investigating and that (the incidents) are all related,” Sgt. John Walker said this week.

Still, he emphasized that investigations are ongoing, and police have not confirmed that the cases are connected.

Police arrested Johnny Tovar, 22, on Tuesday, April 5, in relation to the March 23 incident after the Stanislaus County SWAT team helped serve two warrants at Tovar’s home on Washburn Street and Weber Avenue. Tovar was arrested under suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Police are still looking for a 17-year-old Patterson boy who they think is also connected with the March 23 crime, and they believe the boy and Tovar may also be involved in the Unidad Court incident, Walker said.

The March 23 shooting took place near the Valero service station on the 100 block of East Las Palmas Avenue after pedestrians flagged down a passing car and fired at the people inside of it as the car pulled over to the curb, according to police. Both the passenger and the driver escaped unscathed.

Just one week later, a deputy reported hearing shots fired near First Street and Unidad Court and saw two males running from him. The suspects were never found, but deputies reported finding a vehicle parked on Unidad with bullet holes and broken windows. The victim in that case has been uncooperative with police, and authorities believe the violence is related to gangs or narcotics, Walker said.

The motive for Tuesday’s 2 a.m. shooting on the 500 block of West Las Palmas Avenue has yet to be determined, but it left one woman hospitalized with wounds to her ankle and abdomen after she was fired upon shortly after exiting her car at a friend’s house. The woman underwent surgery and is in stable condition, according to police.

Police arrested Ernesto Santana, 39, of Patterson, that same afternoon on attempted murder charges in relation to that incident.

Authorities hope to have further details – and more arrests – on these shootings in the coming days, Walker said, adding that detectives are putting in long hours to solve some of these cases.

• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187 or jonathan@pattersonirrigator.com.

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