7 caught after mall stabbing

A 19-year-old Modesto man is in critical condition after being stabbed Sunday afternoon in what appears to have been a gang-related fight at Vintage Faire Mall, police said.

Modesto police arrested seven people, including a 13-year-old, in connection with the fight. Those arrested were Javier Torres, 20; Luis Sandoval, 18; Aurelio Tejeda, 19; and juveniles aged 17, 16, 15 and 13, officer Ivan Valencia said. All of them live in Modesto.

Officers found a loaded gun near the scene, Valencia said.

Witnesses told police the victim and his friends had walked outside of the food court area.

"These guys come out, a white car pulls up right in front, words are exchanged," Valencia said. "The victim ends up getting stabbed. First, it seemed just like a fight. But then we heard there was a stabbing victim."

As police responded to the mall, about 3:45 p.m., one officer saw several males running across the parking lot and into a field, Valencia said. Officers caught up with them on the 3200 block of Nightingale Drive.

Other officers found the victim near the food court stabbed in the abdomen.

"Initially, we thought he was going to be OK," Valencia said.

But, about 7 p.m., the hospital told police the victim was in critical condition. He went into surgery when he reached the hospital, Valencia said.

According to police, the victim appeared to have gang tattoos. Some of the males arrested had gang-related tattoos and wore "gang-related clothing," Valencia said.

Modesto police are reviewing surveillance tapes and ask anyone with information about the stabbing to call 572-9500.

Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at eraguso@modbee.com or 578-2235.