Two people were arrested early Friday in connection with a Merced County Sheriff's Department investigation into a car chase allegedly involving rival gang members earlier this week.
The car chase was reported around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday in the 300 block of Sutter Street in Planada. Deputy Rosalie Rios was outside a market when she heard gunshots and witnessed a blue Lincoln driving at a high rate of speed. The Lincoln was being chased by a black Chevy Impala, according to Deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman.
Rios saw the passenger of the Lincoln hanging outside the car window, clutching an object to his chest.
The deputy pursued the vehicles in her patrol car through Planada, but they refused to pull over, MacKenzie said. During the pursuit, the deputy observed the driver of the Impala ram the Lincoln near Live Oak Street and Childs Avenue.
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Although the deputy eventually lost track of the pursuit on Childs Avenue, Merced police later found a car matching the description of the blue Lincoln at a South Merced residence on Sonoma Street near Archangel Avenue. Police and deputies went to the home, and several people were detained, although none were arrested.
MacKenzie said a .38 caliber revolver was found in the flower box of the residence.
During the investigation into the chase, the black Impala was recognized by investigators as belonging to 30-year-old Gabriel Saldana. Deputies went to a residence in the 100 block of Arguello Drive in Planada and interviewed Saldana. He admitted to being involved in the chase and ramming the blue Lincoln, MacKenzie said.
Under questioning, Saldana offered no further information. He was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on Wednesday.
MacKenzie said stray bullets fired between the rival gang members during the car chase struck a home in the 200 block of Adame Court in Merced. No one was hurt.
As part of the follow-up investigation into the car chase, on Friday around 6 a.m. the sheriff's SWAT Team served a search warrant at a residence in the 9700 block of Stanford Avenue in Planada.
After deputies arrived, they watched 50-year-old Antonio Resendiz drive away from the home in a 1999 Dodge Ram. Deputies stopped Resendiz's truck and discovered a loaded 9 mm handgun inside.
The deputies and SWAT Team served the search warrant at the home, where they arrested Resendiz's 16-year-old son. Detectives believe the teen was the driver of the blue Lincoln involved in Tuesday's gang-related car chase, according to Sgt. Jason Goins.
Resendiz was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of having an illegal concealed weapon, while his son was booked into Juvenile Hall on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
Goins said the sheriff's department has taken an aggressive, zero-tolerance stance toward gang violence. He said more arrests are expected in the case.
Detectives are asking anyone with information about the case to call (209) 385-7472. Calls are kept confidential and callers can remain anonymous.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.