Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer held a rare Sunday news conference after several violent crimes plagued the city overnight.
“To say the least, it was a very violent night in our city,” Dyer began. There were four shootings in less than a day: Five people were struck by bullets, and two people died.
Three of the shootings happened within 30 minutes of each other.
Dyer began with detailing the last shooting of the night that resulted in two deaths, calling it “tragic.”
At around 2:20 a.m., the department received a ShotSpotter alert with 26 rounds detected in the area of 855 W. Ashlan Ave., also known as The Parks at Fig Garden apartment complex.
Seventeen 911 calls came in.
Within two and a half minutes, officers were on scene and found a car submerged inside a canal. A woman was found on top of the car attempting to provide first aid on another woman.
A K-9 officer’s 50-foot leash was used to rescue Nandy Williams by wrapping it around her waist and pulling her to safety.
When Fresno Fire Department arrived, firefighters retrieved two deceased shooting victims from the car: Kiara Austin, 19, and Brian Maxey, 20.
Austin is a mother of three children: Twin boys, 3, and a 7-month-old girl. Dyer says Maxey is the father of the baby.
The fourth person in the car, Queshawn Maxey, seemingly escaped the scene and was found the McDonald’s on Ashlan and West avenues, Dyer says. He had a gunshot wound to his arm, and was found with Mary Maxey, the fifth passenger, injured only from the crash.
“Our detectives are looking for leads at this time. And we are asking for the public to provide us those leads,” Dyer pleads.
He calls the five victims innocent, saying they were not involved in criminal activity.
“They were simply parked in the apartment complex. They were there to visit with a friend and that’s when they were approached by several African American males,” Dyer explains.
The men asked why they were parked there, and told them to leave. As they prepared to leave, two suspects pulled out guns and started shooting at them as they drove away.
The driver was shot, lost control, drove through a wall and into the canal.
Police learned the suspects drove back around to the scene to check for any surviving passengers of the violent shooting. “Fortunately, they did not locate them,” the chief says.
A motive is unknown, Dyer says, but continues to urge the public to help with any information it may have.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Fresno Police Homicide Det. Victor Miranda at 559-621-2452 or Det. Miguel Alvarez at 559-260-7635 and/or Sgt. Andre Benson at 559-960-9459.
The three shootings that happened within 30 minutes of each other are detailed below:
8:36 p.m. 3800 block of North Recreation Avenue
The victim of the shooting is 26-year-old Cruz Garcia. He was recently released from prison two weeks ago.
He was struck by two bullets during a possible an interpersonal dispute. “He is a gang member,” Dyer says.
8:55 p.m. 5200 block of East Huntington Boulevard
Francisco Mancha, 30, reportedly a Bulldog gang member, went to his brother’s home where Dyer says he became extremely drunk and started arguing with family members.
That’s when he walked away, yelling and screaming. He comes across a Hispanic man on a bike, argues and the suspect pulls out a revolver and shoots him through his hand and into his shoulder.
“He is going to survive,” Dyer says.
9:05 p.m. 400 block of South Dearing Avenue
A ShotSpotter alert notified officers of the shooting where a Hispanic man was shot while pulled over to lift off the top of his convertible.
Several gunshots rang out, three of them hitting the driver side of the car.
Anyone with information on either of these three shootings is asked to call Fresno Police Sgt. Todd Turney at 559-621-2420.
Compared to last year at this time, we are down in shootings. So far, there are 98, whereas last year there was 125.