Homicide victim a father of six on way to buy diapers, cops say

March 24, 2007 

The man gunned down Thursday night on a south Modesto street was a father of six children walking to a nearby market to buy diapers, the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department reported Friday.

Investigators said they believe the homicide was gang-related.

Jaime Garcia, 31, of Modesto was shot several times about 8:10 p.m. as he walked along Rutherford Street, just south of Inyo Avenue.

Garcia was taken by ambulance to Doctors Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later, sheriff's spokesman deputy Royjindar Singh said.

Singh said the shooting appeared to be gang-related because Garcia is known to have ties to local gangs, and he was wearing red clothing at the time of the shooting. Red is the color commonly associated with the NorteƱo street gang, but sheriff's officials could not confirm Friday whether Garcia was a documented street gang member.

Friends of Garcia said Friday afternoon that he was not affiliated with gangs and spent most of his time taking care of his children.

Maria Alcazar, 32, has known Garcia since his family moved into a house across the street from her home in the 2300 block of Manhattan Way about two years ago. She said Garcia's children ranged in age from 12 years to 1 month.

"He was a real responsible dad," Alcazar said Friday. "He took care of my kids yesterday."

Garcia's home was about two blocks south of where the shooting occurred.

Within 20 minutes of leaving his house, Alcazar said, friends notified Garcia's wife of the shooting. Attempts to contact Garcia's wife were unsuccessful Friday.

The way the shooting occurred also has detectives looking into possible gang involvement.

Garcia was walking along Rutherford Street when a white four-door vehicle approached him, witnesses told sheriff's detectives. Someone in the vehicle fired multiple shots that hit Garcia. Detectives would not say how many.

The vehicle fled west on Inyo Avenue. Singh said witnesses were not able to see inside the vehicle because its dark windows obscured their view. There was no description of the shooters.

Nearby residents heard the shots and came out of their homes to see Garcia lying on the street, just south of Inyo.

On Friday, passers-by and neighbors placed a white cross, several religious candles and an unopened can of Tecate beer at the site of the shooting.

Angela Sanchez, Garcia's longtime friend, returned to the site Friday afternoon to hand out fliers. She was helping organize a car wash in south Modesto to assist Garcia's family with funeral expenses.

"He's got beautiful kids," Sanchez said. "His kids were his world."

The Sheriff's Department asks anyone with information about this shooting to call Detective Darwin Hatfield at 525-7100. Callers also can leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 521-4636.

To comment, click on the link with this story at www.modbee.com. Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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