TURLOCK -- An ongoing dispute between neighbors apparently escalated Thursday morning when they started shooting at each other, authorities said.
Nobody was injured in the incident, but deputies shot and killed a dog that barred them from getting into one of the houses, and children working in a nearby garden were corralled and led out of the area.
Two men were arrested.
JoLynn DiGrazia, director of Westside Ministries, said about 45 kids, some staff members and a couple of parents were on property she and her husband keep as a farm for the organization's 4H members when the shots rang out about 10:30 a.m. The farm is on Greenway Avenue, just southwest of Turlock's city limit.
"Our kids have to pull weeds and work on their garden for the fair," DiGrazia said. Members also raise animals at the farm for competition at the Stanislaus County Fair.
The children and staff reported hearing arguing just before the shots. As deputies and Turlock police arrived and cordoned off the area, DiGrazia also got there and started herding the children to the back of the field and outside the fence line to a convenience store on Lander Avenue, about a mile away.
Deputies trying to get access to one of the houses found their way blocked by an aggressive dog, deputy Royjindar Singh said.
"The homeowners that lived there were not making any attempt to control or restrain the dog," Singh said. "(Deputies) tried pepper-spraying the dog, and they tried using a beanbag shotgun to subdue it. Ultimately they had to shoot the dog and killed it."
Authorities detained three people, two of whom later were arrested. Singh identified them as Brock Mendes and Greg Nichaelson. Their ages were not available. They were booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on charges of displaying a weapon, shooting into an occupied residence and assault with a deadly weapon.
"We did get a rifle from one house and a handgun from another house," Singh said.
He said investigators believe Nichaelson fired first. "Greg shot at Brock's house, and then Brock returned fire," Singh said.
As for the children from Westside Ministries, they handled the drama well, DiGrazia said.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2343.