A 59-year old male gunshot victim was hospitalized Tuesday after being shot outside Merced.
In a strange turn of events, Merced County sheriff's detectives say the victim was taken to Mercy Medical Center by the suspected shooter.
Merced police were dispatched to the hospital shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday after someone had driven the gunshot victim to the hospital in a pickup truck. Police detained the driver, 61-year-old Jose Paz of Planada, at the scene.
Sheriff's detectives took over the investigation after learning the shooting happened about a mile-and-a- half outside Merced city limits.
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Detectives learned during their investigation that Paz was an employee of the victim and they'd gotten into an argument Tuesday at a location in the 500 block of Reilly Road. During the argument, Paz allegedly pulled a handgun and shot the victim several times in the upper torso, according to Deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman.
After the shooting, Paz drove the victim to Mercy Medical Center Merced's previous location on 13th Street and found it closed. He then drove the victim to the new hospital off G Street, where the victim stumbled out of the truck and was taken immediately into surgery.
Meanwhile, the suspect tried to walk away, leaving the victim's truck parked in front of the hospital entrance. Several construction workers witnessed Paz trying to leave and held him until Merced police arrived.
The suspect also tried hiding the gun in some bushes outside the hospital. Detectives later recovered it.
MacKenzie said it appeared Paz had been drinking when he pulled up the truck to the hospital's entrance. Witnesses said Paz was weaving and ran the truck into a curb. The suspect's blood alcohol concentration wasn't available Tuesday.
Robert McLaughlin, spokesman for Mercy, said the victim is listed in stable but serious condition.
It's not the first time Paz has been arrested for a crime involving the 59-year-old victim. Paz was arrested in 2008 for assault with a deadly weapon when he was drinking and approached the victim's son and waved a gun at him, saying he was going to kill him, MacKenzie said. Back then, Paz had also threatened to kill the victim who showed up at the hospital Tuesday with gunshot wounds, MacKenzie said.
Paz received three years probation for the incident -- and apparently went back to work for the victim. Paz will be booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder.
Detectives are asking anyone with information about the shooting to call (209) 385-7472. All calls are kept confidential, and you can remain anonymous.
Reporter Yesenia Maro contributed to this report.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.