At the same Oakdale market where two people were shot and killed last year, a man was shot in an altercation Thursday morning that police suspect was gang-related.
Oakdale Police Chief Lester Jenkins said the two blocks of I street west of Yosemite Avenue are rife with gang activity, and that the Oakdale Market at 311 E. I St. is a popular hangout for gang members.
The man who shot the 23-year-old victim just before noon is believed to have confronted him near the entrance of the market and asked about his gang affiliation, Jenkins said.
Shell casings found at the scene indicate the confrontation moved to the side of the market, where shots were fired from two handguns, police said.
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Jenkins said it is not clear whether the victim also had a gun and fired, or if there was a second person with a gun.
Police said the man was seen leaving the area in a silver Cadillac with three or four Latino teenagers.
The victim was taken to a local hospital with two gunshot wounds that were not life-threatening, Jenkins said.
The victim claimed not to be a gang member, but Jenkins said, “We believe that this was a Norteño/Sureño-motivated shooting.”
The man who confronted the victim was wearing a red shirt, the color often worn by Norteño gang members.
“A lot of the kids around here wear red, and then you have the kids coming from Riverbank who wear blue – it’s a bad combination,” said a neighbor who declined to give his name. “The only thing that surprised me was it was in broad daylight.”
It was after 9 p.m. in November when Abel Calderon, 20, and Ruben Mora Jr., 15, were fatally shot in front of the market. The family of the suspect, Ryan Neil Mazzariello, 26, said he felt tormented and was reacting to a year’s worth of threats to him and his family from gang members.
The 15-year-old victim’s family said he was not involved in gangs, and police would not comment. Mazzariello was found dead and alone in his cell at the Stanislaus County Jail in January.
Jenkins said the two cases do not appear to be related, but that the area has a high concentration of gang members who live there or visit friends who live there.
The neighbor said he’s noticed an increase in police presence in the area – officers stopping and talking to gang member and making sure kids get home safely from school – but “they don’t seem to be deterring anything.”
Officers cordoned off the area around the market to process the scene Thursday, placing yellow evidence placards by shell casings around the street and on three cars that were struck by gunfire.
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department assisted in the search for the shooter, which ended about 1:30 p.m.
Oakdale High School was locked down temporarily during the search.
The shooter is described as a white juvenile or young adult, about 5-feet-9-inches tall, with a thin build. He was wearing a red shirt and a Raiders jacket, and the silver Cadillac in which he drove away had a protective mask on the front.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Officer Julio Rosa at (209) 847-2231.