Two jailed in attempted murder
Shooting shocks quiet neighborhood
Two Porterville men are in custody for their alleged involvement in a shooting that occurred early Tuesday morning.
The suspects, identified by police as Mauricio Baez and Lucio Verduzco, both 34, were booked at the Porterville substation on suspicion of attempted murder.
The incident happened around 12:45 a.m. in the 700 block of West Sandra Avenue. The Porterville Police Department reports that officers were in the area of Westfield Avenue and Prospect Street when they heard several gunshots being fired off toward the east.
A short time later, a white SUV was seen speeding on Westfield Avenue and an officer was flagged down by the driver, who told officers his friend had been shot, the PPD reports. The 28-year-old victim was rushed to Sierra View District Hospital as assisting officers began searching the area.
Dispatchers received several 9-1-1 calls, but the scene was not immediately located.
Among those callers was Christyne Nava, who lives a few doors down from where the shooting occurred.
“I was sitting in my kitchen with a friend, we were talking, watching TV and playing dominoes when I saw this white Cherokee Jeep come down the block real slow, turn around, and go back up the block and then it stopped maybe a couple doors down,” Nava said.
She said she found it unusual because cars don’t usually roam the area that late. She then looked out her window and saw a man walking down the street toward the east of the cul-de-sac, she said.
“I assumed he was walking from the jeep when he got to my mailbox, turned around and started walking back toward the west,” she said.
What she heard next were three shots and her friend shout, “get down.”
“I got down to the floor behind things and I went to my bedroom, got my phone and dialed 9-1-1,” she said.
Nava, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, said crime there has been intermittent and non-violent. She also noted that particular house has had more problems than any other house on the block.
“It’s hit my neighborhood, too,” she said. “To be honest, I’d love to be able to move. It’s getting scary and I’m 65 and it’s getting kind of scary, but with the house upended and all you can’t.”
Police say the victim’s friend was not immediately cooperative with investigators, but admitted that he and the victim had gone to the West Sandra home to settle an ongoing dispute and that when they arrived at the home, they were shot at by the suspects.
Officers set up a perimeter around the home as detectives and SWAT personnel responded to the scene.
Police say that after several attempts to contact the residents, one of the suspects, later identified as Baez, surrendered and came outside.
The SWAT team and a police dog team entered the home and during a search, reportedly found Verduzco hiding in a closet.
Both were arrested without incident.
Baez is also suspected of possession of marijuana for sale, felon in possession of ammunition, and felon in possession of a bullet-proof vest.
Verduzco was booked on additional charges of resisting arrest and for three felony warrants.
Police say that when the victim was initially taken to the local hospital, he was unresponsive and suffering from a gunshot wound to his back. He was stabilized by ER staff and flown to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.
As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, he was listed in critical, but stable condition, Porterville Police Officer Dominic Barteau said. A family member said the man underwent surgery Tuesday and was in the intensive care unit.
Barteau said the shooting does not appear to be gang related.
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, Ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.