Homicide victim found in school parking lot identified by Merced coroner as 21-year-old man

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Atwater police are continuing their search for suspects after the body of a man was found in the parking lot of Buhach Colony High last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday the Merced County Sheriff Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Benjamin Avina Avila, 21, of Atwater, according to Deputy Daryl Allen.

According to Atwater police, officers responded to the northwest parking lot of Buhach Colony High at about 11:40 p.m. for a report of a shooting.

Officers arrived on scene and located Avila lying in the parking lot suffering from gunshot wounds.

Life-saving measures were attempted but Avila was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene. Police said they are looking for a black sedan occupied by two males that left the area of the incident. Evidence of narcotic activity was located and possibly a motive for the shooting, according to police.

Authorities said the shooting is not connected to Buhach Colony High. Thus far there have been 17 homicides this year in Merced County, per the Sun-Star archives.

Police ask anyone with information to contact the Atwater Police Department at 209-357-6384 and ask for Detective-Sgt. Brum or Detective Vargas.

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