'This doesn't happen here': Rural town in shock after gang shooting leaves 2 dead

·2 min read
A small Tulare County town is reeling after a gang shootout left two people dead and three wounded Thursday afternoon. Sherriff's deputies said those involved were members of rival gangs and the survivors were arrested on murder charges Friday.
A small Tulare County town is reeling after a gang shootout left two people dead and three wounded Thursday afternoon. Sherriff's deputies said those involved were members of rival gangs and the survivors were arrested on murder charges Friday.

Ducor residents are reeling after a shootout between rival gang members left two dead and three hospitalized outside one of the quiet, rural town's only markets Thursday afternoon.

Around 5 p.m., Tulare County sheriff's deputies responded to a shooting at the Ducor Handy Market on Avenue 56. They found one victim — 20-year-old Francisco Rodriguez of Ducor— suffering gunshot wounds and rushed him to the hospital, where he later died.

Other gunshot victims began arriving at nearby hospitals, deputies at the scene of the crime learned. Detectives said the shootout happened after a red Nissan Altima and white Chevrolet Malibu arrived at the business at the same time.

"Almost instantaneously, people got out of each vehicle and began shooting at each other," Ashley Schwarm, sheriff's spokesperson, said in a news release. "All of them were determined to be from rival Northern and Southern gang associates."

Rodriguez and another occupant of the Malibu, 21-year-old Jaan Maciel also of Ducor, were shot. Delano residents 35-year-old Jose Palomo, 32-year-old Mauro Aguilar, and an unidentified 17-year-old boy all were shot in the Altima.

Aguilar also died as a result of the shootings. All five gang associates were armed and "active participants in the shooting," Schwarm said.

Palomo and the 17-year-old boy were arrested for the murder of in connection with Rodriguez's death. Maciel was arrested and linked to Aguilar's death. They are being held without bail. Both are expected in court Tuesday.

It's unknown if the 17-year-old will be tried as an adult. They face life in prison, if convicted.

'This doesn't happen here'

Deputies with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office were called at around 3:45 p.m. Thursday for a shooting at a Ducor Shell Gas Station.
Deputies with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office were called at around 3:45 p.m. Thursday for a shooting at a Ducor Shell Gas Station.

Residents of the small agricultural community of about 600 reacted to the mass shooting on Friday.

"This never happens here. My husband has lived in Ducor for 45 years," said Raquel Trice, who lives near the market where the shooting happened. "I'm worried about possible retaliation and what might happen next."

The Trices had been parked at the gas station a few minutes before the lot erupted in gunfire. Their son at home heard the shots ringing out.

"It scared me," the mother said. "I'm glad we are safe."

Raquel's husband Michael said he isn't overly concerned by the apparent gang violence. He said homicides and other violent crimes haven't happened in the small town in years.

Market management declined to comment on the incident. Customers continued to shop and get gas at the market which reopened on Friday.

Anyone with information regarding the deadly shootings is urged to contact Detective Dave Gutierrez or Sgt. Bryan Clower at 733-6218. You can leave an anonymous tip by calling or texting 725-4194 or emailing tcso@tipnow.com

Joshua Yeager is a reporter with the Visalia Times-Delta and a Report for America corps member. He covers Tulare County news deserts with a focus on the environment and local governments.

Follow him on Twitter @VTD_Joshy. Get alerts and keep up on all things Tulare County for as little as $1 a month. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Visalia Times-Delta: Ducor residents shaken after gang shootout leaves 2 dead, 3 wounded

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