Jul 26, 2014

Update: Drive-By Shooting Suspects Chased Down, Caught

Three teens were arrested following a police chase and manhunt.

Update: Drive-By Shooting Suspects Chased Down, Caught

Update, 9 a.m. Tuesday: Three teenagers who may be linked to a drive-by shooting from a car near Starlight Elementary School on Monday afternoon were chased down by police officers and arrested, Watsonville police reported.

The melee began around 4:21 p.m. when shots were fired near Pennsylvania and Clifford avenues. Witnesses told police the bullets came from a car similar to a maroon Honda that sped north up Pennsylvania Avenue toward Green Valley Road, according to Sgt. Tony Magdayao.

WPD officer Brad Chagnon spotted a maroon Mitsubishi as it ran a stop sign near Anna Street and Technology Drive. Chagnon tried to stop the car for the vehicle code violation in the parking lot of the Watsonville Community Hospital at 75 Nielsen Rd., but the Mitsubishi failed to obey his command. During the attempted car stop, one of the passengers jumped out of the Mitsubishi and ran off through a field of thick brush just north of the hospital, Magdayao said. 

Chagnon followed the Mitsubishi, but sent other officers after the suspect who ran away. The California Highway Patrol, Sheriff's Office and a Capitola Police dog responded to help surround the young man, and he was located and arrested. He is 14 years old, police reported.

Meanwhile, Chagnon pursued the Mitsubishi to a parking lot at Watsonville Square Shopping Center, at Green Valley Road and Main Street, where it crashed into a parked car. The driver and passenger ran, but were chased down by officers and arrested. The driver was identified as Merino Zarate, 19, and the passenger was identified as Ernesto Murrillo, 18, according to Magdayao.

Police reported that Zarate, the driver, had been drinking alcohol.

Zarate and Murillo both were booked into Santa Cruz County Jail; the 14-year-old was sent home with his parents. Charges for the three include evading police and resisting arrest. The driver also could face DUI and hit and run charges, Magdayao reported.

Detectives continue to investigate the shooting and, late Monday, had not determined if the three teens were connected to the gun violence. No weapon has been found, police reported.

Original story, 10 p.m. Monday: Watsonville police urged people to avoid the Airport Boulevard-Westgate Drive area for hours Monday afternoon as officers searched for an armed man believed to be involved in a drive-by shooting, police reported.

No one was injured in the shooting, at the corner of Pennsylvania and Hammer drives, but the violence scared many. Read this eye-witness account in the Register Pajaronian newspaper and view photos of the police action.

Watsonville police Lt. David McCartney said officers detained three people following the shooting, which happened near , the same area as .

The  Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that an officer spotted a vehicle thought to be involved in the shooting.

Police issued a warning people to steer clear of the Airport Bouelvard area around 4:40 p.m., then sent out an all-clear 30 minutes later.

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