Suspect in death of former Merced DA’s son identified

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The suspect in the death of Ethan Morse – son of former Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II – has been identified, the Atwater Police Department said Monday.

Ethan was killed in a drive-by shooting on March 15 in Atwater.

After weeks of investigating, the Police Department identified Dagoberto Franco Penaloza, 26, as the prime suspect.

He’s described as being 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds.

His last known address was 2712 Fordham St. in east Palo Alto.

Penaloza is known to frequent the area to work in the landscaping industry and has ties to the Bay Area, Modesto, and Red Bluff areas.

Anyone who sees Penaloza should not approach him, and instead contact a local law enforcement agency immediately.

He is considered armed and dangerous.

The motive for the homicide is still under investigation.

Anyone with any information should call Atwater Police at 209-357-6396, Atwater Police Department Investigations at 209-357-6384 or Merced Area Crime Stoppers at 855-725-2420.

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