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December 29, 2013

Authorities seek suspects in fatal hit-and-run; gunfire reported at scene

A male was killed and a female injured in a hit-and-run incident early Sunday morning that may also have featured gunfire, authorities say.

A young man was killed and a young woman injured when they were struck by a car that sped away about the time gunfire erupted near a large party early Sunday morning, witnesses and authorities said.

Many details were withheld as the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, classifying the death as a hit-and-run homicide, searched for a dark Nissan car and its occupants.

Friends identified the young man in Facebook postings as Blake Barry of Oakdale and said he was run over while trying to push a friend to safety, but authorities would not confirm the victims’ identities or that story version.

Several neighbors said it sounded like gunfire was being exchanged about 1:30 a.m. and assumed the shots involved participants in a large party spilling into yards at a home in the 500 block of E Street in Waterford. Chaos erupted, they said, and squealing tires were heard where some attending the party had parked on nearby Dorsey Street.

Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Keith Rakoncza said the two victims were not struck by gunfire. He said the young man’s death was the 16th homicide the department has handled this year.

A Facebook page for Blake Barry says he was a member of Oakdale High School’s class of 2011.

“He was an all-around cool dude, kind of the life of the party,” said Steven Voelker on the telephone from Oregon, where he moved earlier this year; he learned of Barry’s death via social media. “Everyone liked him. He was a funny, down-to-earth dude and had a really good heart.”

Two young men at the home where the party was held said they did not know the victims. Three young women who attended the party said the same; they stayed inside when shots rang out, they said, declining to be identified.

Nick Moran, a former Ceres resident who said he was visiting Waterford while on break between semesters at Boise State University, said he and friends were enjoying a fire in a yard near the party house, whose backyard was “fence to fence filled with people.” Gunfire broke out close enough that he could feel the shots’ concussive force, he said.

“Gunshots were popping off, bullets whizzing by, and I saw people running in all directions,” he said. “Every which way was just commotion. We decided to tuck tail and called the cops.”

Other neighbors in various homes, including Brenda Jimenez, Joseph Thomas and Nanette Mangan, said they heard a series of shots interrupted by short periods, suggesting a gunfire exchange, but said they could not be sure.

“Lots of people were screaming and yelling, and everyone was scattering,” Thomas said.

“Adrenalin gets to pumping, and you don’t really sleep after that,” Mangan said.

Witnesses said both young people had been struck by the Nissan, and the Sheriff’s Department said they were transported to Oak Valley Hospital. The man was pronounced dead, while the woman’s injuries were not life-threatening, a news release says.

Blood spatters and foam, apparently sprayed by cleanup crews, remained early Sunday afternoon along a stretch of about 40 feet of street gutter on Dorsey. Pavement also was littered with broken glass and a discarded black latex glove.

Darrell Daniel grieved for his friend in Facebook postings, sharing plans for T-shirt and rap song tributes to Barry.

Investigators ask anyone with information on the case to call Detective Greg Buck at (209) 525-7103.

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