July 26, 2012

Feud, exchange of gunfire led to deaths in Hughson

An exchange of gunfire Wednesday tipped off by a long-standing feud is what led to the death of two men in Hughson, authorities said.

Nick Kounias and John Szuggar were the men found shot to death inside a home on Seventh Street, according to deputy Royjindar Singh of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

Kounias, 45, lived with his girlfriend in a small residence behind the main home, owned by his parents.

Szuggar, 52, was a former next-door neighbor who broke into the main home after a slow-speed chase from rural Oakdale to Hughson, sources said.

Detectives said Thursday that Szuggar ran into the home and both men had an exchange of gunfire. They said Kounias may have been acting in self-defense.

Detectives are calling the findings preliminary, as they have sent evidence to U.S. Department of Justice lab for testing.

The incident began at about 1:30 p.m. with a report that there was an armed, suicidal man on Eaton Road east of Oakdale.

The man got into a Dodge pickup and drove off before deputies arrived, but the truck was spotted and several deputies attempted to get the driver to pull over at Yosemite Boulevard and Albers Road.

A deputy spotted a vehicle that matched the description of what Szuggar was driving, Singh said.

The deputy started following the vehicle and waited for backup units. Once backup units arrived from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol, deputies attempted to stop Szuggar to check on his welfare.

Szuggar failed to stop and continued driving south on Geer Road. He then turned west on East Hatch Road and then south on Seventh Street.

Szuggar pulled into the driveway of a home in the 1800 block of Seventh Street, exited the vehicle and ran inside the home, Singh said. As deputies arrived and started surrounding the home, they heard several gunshots from inside.

An adult female ran out of the home and told deputies that other people were still inside the house. We’ll have more on this story later this evening.

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