April 12, 2012

Witnesses recount fatal shootings at Modesto apartment complex

Longtime Whispering Woods resident Cheryl Seals lives kitty corner from where the shooting happened. Seals, 33, said a father and his son live together in the apartment that was surrounded.

She said the man is in his 50s and son in his 20s or 30s. The son, she said, was recently discharged from the military but she did not know what branch. She had not spoken to either one at any length.

“Not really, it’s just a neighbor. You say hi. I try to keep to myself. Especially in this neighborhood.”

She said her boyfriend and her 10-year-old son were home at the time of the shooting. They heard the shot and saw the deputy on the ground. They were evacuated and are staying with a friend a block away.

“It was great here when we moved in here 6 years ago. But now it’s getting worse and worse every single day.”


Naida Rivera, 27, was at the evacuation center at Prescott Evangelical Free Church with her four children, ages 2,3,4 and 7, and her boyfriend, Richard Peraza.

"We live two houses away from him (the suspected gunman)," she said. "I've seen the older man, a 50- or 60-year-old man who lives there, riding his bike, but I didn't know his younger son.

"I heard the bullets -- boom, boom, boom, boom. Then pop, pop, pop, pop back. I woke (my boyfriend) up and I looked outside and saw two dead bodies. I was scared. I told everybody, 'Get down! stay down!' "

She said she was thankful for the evacuation center provided by the church and Red Cross.

"They've been so generous here, so sweet," she said.


Yemen Zokari and Steven Gasterlum, who said they live with their baby two doors down from the suspect gunman, said they looked out the window when they heard gunshots Thursday morning.

They saw two men lying on the ground, one on his stomach and another on his back closer to the door of the house from where the shots came.

"There was another officer that was kneeling on the side of the house while they were laying there," Zokari said. "I think he was staying out of the way from being shot."

"We just felt so bad. We wanted to do something but you can't. What can you do? It's traumatizing to see them."


Lia Falo said she has lived for about four years across the street from where the shooting occurred. She said she doesn't know the man who lives at the apartment and never saw him outside.

She said she noticed the man had a surveillance camera installed above the front door.

"I just woke up to the shots," Falo said. "About four or five shots."

She looked outside her window and spotted two men injured on the ground, including a sheriff's deputy. A second deputy was on the side of the apartment building, she said, asking nearby residents to stay indoors because there was a gunman inside the apartment.

Falo and her family were later evacuated from their home, along with other nearby residents. They were staying with relatives Thursday afternoon.

She said police hurried them out of the area.

"We just had to get out of there."

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