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April 29, 2008

Man shot to death, another wounded in Modesto

A 51-year-old Modesto man was shot and killed this morning and a 29-year-old man was wounded in the city’s third shooting attack in less than a week and one that confounds family and neighbors.

Clarence "Buddy" Mason was walking his dog this morning on Larkin Avenue near his Kerr Avenue home before 3 a.m. with a younger man when he was shot five times, according to neighbors and his widow, Janice Mason. The younger man was shot in the leg and is expected to survive.

Mrs. Mason said her husband "was a good man, he didn’t do anything wrong, he didn’t give anybody any problems. I really don’t know why this happened. I don’t. Because he was always good to everybody."

She said her husband may have shielded the younger man, which would account for four bullet holes fired through the back of his jacket, she said.

"I think it is pretty cowardly of someone to do something like that," she said. "He had no enemies." Buddy Mason helped everyone in the neighborhood, according to Dealoris Harris, who lives nearby and was stunned by his death.

"He was one of the nicest people I have ever known," said Harris, 51. "I don’t think there is anyone in this neighborhood who he didn’t help out. All they had to do was ask him."

That sometimes took the form of a small amount of money or of food, Janice Mason said. She said her husband had been talking about starting a bible study and wanted to become a Christian.

Police say the two men were walking on Larkin Avenue at Kerr Avenue about 2:35 a.m. when a man who might have been on a bicycle came upon them and shot them. The shooter is described as a Hispanic male in his 20s-40s, 5-foot-6-inches with dark hair but police didn’t have a suspect this morning.

Police haven’t determined whether the shooting is gang-related. Nor do they know if it is connected to a Friday shooting of a toddler in west Modesto or another shooting 2 1/2 hours later in south Modesto, which killed a 14-year-old boy and wounded a 15-year-old boy.

"We have no reason to link them at this point," said Modesto Police officer Michael Amarillas. "If we could say they were linked, we might have an idea (of what is causing the shootings)."

He urged anyone with information about any of the shootings to come forward. People can leave tips anonymously by calling CrimeStoppers, 521-4636.

Modesto Bee photographer Bart Ah You contributed to this report.

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