A gunfight Tuesday afternoon in the Beachwood area left one man dead and two others wounded, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department confirmed.
A man was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was found in a gutter, next to a curb, outside a home in the 2900 block of Maple Street, just off Dan Ward Road, in the unincorporated area of Merced, Sheriff Vern Warnke confirmed.
Two other men were taken to Mercy Medical Center in Merced in private vehicles. One of the victims was then flown to a Modesto hospital. Warnke described that man’s injuries as “serious.” An update on the other victim was not available Tuesday.
Deputies could not confirm motives for the violence but said preliminary indications point to a marijuana-growing operation.
“By all indications, it looked like the OK Corral out here,” Warnke said. “My guts are telling me marijuana is going to have played a role in all of this.”
Investigators found numerous marijuana plants in the backyard of the home and some clipped marijuana buds inside the home. Deputies also found a large amount of blood inside the home and numerous shell casings inside and outside the house, the sheriff said.
No arrests had been made and no suspect descriptions were released Tuesday.
Several neighbors reported hearing as many as a dozen gunshots around 2:15 p.m. They said men had been staying at the house in recent months, but it was unclear if they were living there legally.
Two residents, who asked not to be identified for safety reasons, said they never saw electrical lights on in the home but noticed people coming and going from the home at all hours.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if it was because of (marijuana),” James Morris said. “It seems like everybody grows (marijuana) around here. You smell it everywhere.”
Morris was inside his nearby home when he heard eight to 12 gunshots. “I heard the shots and the cop sirens right away,” he said. “No idea what was going on, but I thought, ‘I hope they catch whoever is doing whatever happened; the shooting.’ ”
Deputies found a man dead on the curb. It is not clear where the two wounded people were.
Deputies had been to the home in recent months, Warnke said.
Investigators said they found 12 plants in the backyard, which is within the legal limit established by the county’s marijuana ordinance. There was nobody in the house during the recent search by deputies, authorities said.
Tuesday’s death was the second homicide in Merced County within 24 hours. A man was fatally shot Monday evening on Park Street in Atwater.
The violence brings the number of homicides in 2015 in Merced County to 27.
|Chowchilla News Day
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