South Modesto man killed

24-year-old found shot near volleyball courts; no suspects identified

July 23, 2010 

Sheriff's detectives on Friday were looking for witnesses and suspects in a Thursday night shooting that left one man dead near several volleyball courts on a property in south Modesto.

Roberto Sanchez, 24, of Modesto was found on the ground with a gunshot wound. Authorities performed life-saving procedures on Sanchez, but he could not be revived.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, said deputy Luke Schwartz, a Stanislaus County sheriff's spokesman.

The shooting occurred about 8:50 p.m. at the property in the 300 block of Olivero Road, just east of Crows Landing Road and a few blocks west of Highway 99.

Patrol deputies responded to reports of shots fired and found Sanchez near the volleyball courts, Schwartz said.

As of Friday evening, detectives had not identified any suspects and did not have any vehicle or weapon descriptions.

Witnesses told investigators they spotted vehicles leaving the area after the shots were heard.

"There were a lot of people leaving that area at the same time," Schwartz said. "It may just have been some frightened neighbors leaving the area."

Sanchez's family was at the shooting scene when deputies arrived. Schwartz said Sanchez lived in south Modesto, but it was unclear whether he lived at a home on the property.

Detectives do not believe anyone was playing volleyball shortly before the shots were fired. There was no indication the shooting was gang related, but investigators were still looking into all possible motives.

"We haven't ruled in anything or ruled out anything," Schwartz said. "The detectives have some promising leads that they're following up on."

Attempts to reach the property owners were not successful Friday afternoon.

A neighbor said she sees large crowds of people gathering to play volleyball on the property almost every day, hanging out and playing loud music late into the night. She declined to give her name because she fears retaliation.

"You can see them hitting the ball back and forth from my driveway," said the 52-year-old woman, who has lived in the neighborhood for 22 years. "All you see is people going in and people going out."

She said food is sold there during the games.

Shots have been fired from the area before, she added, and vehicles are routinely seen screeching their tires as they leave the property.

"We called (the Sheriff's Department) once, because we thought they were going to hit our fence," the neighbor said. "It was getting dangerous out there."

Sheriff's officials ask anyone with information about this shooting to call Detective Darwin Hatfield at 525-7100 or Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Tipsters also can e-mail tips through the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.stancrimetips.org, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus a message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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