Modesto crime spree included shooting man who was holding his 18-month-old grandson

A 37-year-old man was fatally shot Sunday night on the 400 block of Donegal Drive, northeast of Yosemite Bouilevard and El Vista Avenue in Modesto.
A 37-year-old man was fatally shot Sunday night on the 400 block of Donegal Drive, northeast of Yosemite Bouilevard and El Vista Avenue in Modesto. Modesto Police Department

A 20-year-old Modesto man faces up to 285 years to life in prison for a crime spree last year that involved five shootings, including the killing of a man holding his 18-month-old grandson. But prosecutors say he could be released after serving only 25 years behind bars.

Stephen Tisdale on Sept. 26 pleaded no contest to two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, two counts of participating in a criminal street gang, child endangerment, vehicle theft and home invasion robbery, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday in a news release.

Tisdale’s conviction included enhancements to his charges for using a gun. Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeff Mangar prosecuted the case.

Police have said the shootings were related to criminal gang activity and drugs. Tisdale was arrested and charged three months after the first shooting.

About 9 p.m. Sept. 18, 2018, Tisdale went to the Stop ‘n’ Shop on Yosemite Boulevard in east Modesto. Prosecutors said Tisdale had intended to rob the convenience store, but the business was closed for the night.

When the store clerk refused to open the locked front glass doors, Tisdale shot through the doors at the clerk, according to prosecutors. Gunfire struck the clerk’s hand. They said Tisdale ran from the store. The shooting was captured on the store’s video security camera system.

About 3 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2018, Tisdale shot a bicyclist in the area of El Pasado Drive near Riverside Park in east Modesto, according to prosecutors. The bicyclist was seriously injured. Authorities have said Tisdale was trying to kill the victim in retaliation over a drug debt owed to the Norteño street gang.

Stephen Tisdal_fitted.jpeg
Stephen Tisdale Modesto Police Department

About 8 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2018, Tisdale drove to the home of James Chisum, 37, a few blocks east of El Vista Avenue in east Modesto. Prosecutors said Tisdale — armed with a shotgun — went into the home and shot Chisum once in the chest.

Chisum, who was holding his grandson when he was shot, died; the child was not injured. Prosecutors said Tisdale believed Chisum was a Norteño gang dropout.

Later that same night, Tisdale fired a gun at a couple walking home near the Sunrise Village Mobile Home Park along South Seventh Street in Modesto, according to prosecutors. They said Tisdale believed the 53-year-old man and his 57-year-old girlfriend also were Norteño gang dropouts. The woman was hit by gunfire and seriously injured.

On the evening of Oct. 31, 2018, Tisdale shot and killed Sameer Sogol, 58, at a home in the 3700 block of Coffee Road in north Modesto, according to prosecutors. Police have said Sogul was shot and robbed inside the home’s garage.

Tisdale was spotted driving a gray 2003 BMW 530 in the area of South Abbie Street in Empire about 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 4. The car had been reported stolen the day before.

Modesto police detectives identified Tisdale as the suspect in the crime spree and arrested him on Dec. 7. At that time, Tisdale was on probation for a conviction of domestic violence and assault with a deadly weapon, according to prosecutors.

Tisdale is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 21, when the victims or their families can speak in court about the impacts of these crimes.

Since Tisdale was younger than 25 when he committed his crimes, changes in state law now make him eligible for parole after serving 25 years of his sentence, according to prosecutors.

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Rosalio Ahumada writes news stories about criminal court cases in Stanislaus County for The Modesto Bee, issues related to immigration and immigrant communities and breaking news related to crime and public safety. From time to time, he covers the Modesto City Council meetings. He has worked as a news reporter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since 2004.