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Man shoots at theft suspects

Police took a 22-year-old man into custody who reportedly shot at three suspected thieves and injured one of them after an attempt to steal the man's car stereo early Saturday in front of his south Modesto home.

Jose Garcia Jr. faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon and possession of cocaine for sale, said Sgt. Craig Gundlach, a Modesto police spokesman.

As of Saturday evening, Garcia was being questioned by police.

Detectives searched Garcia's house and found two handguns, the cocaine and marijuana, Gundlach said, adding that Garcia and his father have medical marijuana cards.

"We are confident he will be booked, at least for the possession of cocaine for sale charge," Gundlach said.

The three 18-year-olds sus- pected of breaking into Garcia's car had not been arrested as of Saturday evening, but they face burglary charges, Gundlach said.

The shooting occurred about 4:30 a.m. in the 1800 block of Jardin Way, a few blocks south of West Hatch Road.

When police responded to a report of shots fired, the officers followed a trail of blood around the block until they spotted 18-year-old Felix Rengel of Modesto lying on the ground, Gundlach said.

Rengel had been shot several times, and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Gundlach said Rengel was still in the hospital Saturday afternoon and was expected to recover.

A second teenager approached officers and told police he had been with Rengel and showed them the house where Rengel was shot, Gundlach said.

Officers located bullet casings belonging to a midsized-caliber handgun near the porch of the house. One of the two handguns found later in the house had been left disassembled inside an oven, Gundlach said.

Police used a bullhorn and made phone calls into the house, but there was no response. The Modesto police Special Weapons and Tactics team and other officers set up a perimeter around the house.

About 8:45 a.m., 55-year-old Jose Garcia Sr. came out of the house and told officers his son was asleep inside. A few minutes later, Garcia Jr. walked out of the house and surrendered to officers, Gundlach said.

Officers found bullet holes in three houses across the street from the Garcia home. None of the bullets appeared to have entered into the interior of the homes and no additional injuries were reported, Gundlach said.

Witnesses told police that Garcia chased the suspected thieves down the street while shooting at them.

Gundlach said a third teen, who was with Rengel during the shooting, contacted police and was questioned at the police station.

He said Garcia should have called 911 and worked with officers instead of shooting at the suspected thieves. Gundlach said Garcia never called police and put his neighborhood at risk.

"We encourage citizens to take an active role in their neighborhoods to prevent crime," he said. "However, protecting your car stereo is not justification for shooting someone."

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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