A man died after being stabbed shortly before 6 p.m. Monday on 12th Street, less than a block southeast of G Street, police reported.
No suspects are in custody, and police say the stabbing happened during a robbery attempt. Investigators say details are very sketchy.
The victim's name and age haven't been released, pending notification of his family or next of kin.
The victim, a man in his 20s or early 30s, was walking with a friend from a nearby convenience store. The pair were confronted by two male suspects, who demanded their goods, according to Sgt. Alan Ward.
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The pair told the robbers that they didn't have anything -- but the suspects didn't believe them. One of the robbers pulled a knife, stabbing the victim several times. Meanwhile, the victim's friend fled on foot and the robbers ran away, Ward said.
The victim was transported to a hospital, but died from his injuries less than three hours later.
Police said the robbers are described as two Latino male adults, one wearing a red coat.
Dozens of police arrived at the scene after the stabbing, blocked off a section of 12th Street with yellow tape, and searched for clues.
The homicide is the sixth reported in Merced this year, and the 21st reported in Merced County.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about the crime to call (209) 385-6905 or the department's automated tip-line at (209) 385-4725. Callers can remain anonymous.
Reporter Victor A.