One man is in custody and a second one is being sought in connection with the Dec. 30 shooting near Chowchilla that left two people wounded, Madera County Sheriff John Anderson announced Tuesday.
Arrested was Elias Lopez-Martinez, 25, of Oaxaca, Mexico. He remains jailed on a federal immigration hold.
Anderson said the shooting was the result of a prearranged drug deal that turned into a botched robbery, leaving a 22-year-old Chowchilla man with a bullet wound to his cheek and a 17-year-old Madera boy clinging to life.
On Dec. 30, the sheriff's department received a call from a man who claimed he had just been shot in the face. The victim, whose name has not been released, said he was driving near Avenue 18 1/2 and Road 10 when he was pulled over by what he described as an unmarked police truck with lights above the cab.
The man told investigators that he and his two passengers were ordered out of their vehicle and told to lie on the ground. That's when two men in the truck started firing. The 17-year-old passenger was struck by gunfire in the upper body and a second passenger fled. The 22-year-old motorist got back in the car and tried to drive away, but was shot in the face. As he drove away, the man called 911.
The man told authorities where the shooting occurred but said claimed he didn't know where he was, Anderson said. Deputies eventually found the man near Avenue 21 and Road 4, more than eight miles away.
The victims were unwilling to provide additional details of the shooting, Anderson said. But the next day, detectives found the truck at a gas station on Highway 145 and Avenue 13 and arrested Lopez-Martinez.
Investigators later searched a Chowchilla apartment and found one pound of crystal methamphetamine, weapons, zip-tie wrist restraints, a windbreaker with "POLICE" in large letters printed across the back, body armor, tactical gear, face masks, a fake law enforcement flat badge and U.S. Marshal ball caps.
Meanwhile detectives followed a blood trail at one of the two locations and found nine pounds of packaged crystal methamphetamine stashed beneath a bridge, Anderson said.
"It appears the victim (who had sustained a gunshot wound to his face) had the wherewithal to find a place to stash $45,000 dollars worth of meth before calling for help," Anderson said.
Anyone who may have information about this case is asked to call the Madera County Sheriff's Department at (559) 675-7770 or Crime Stoppers at 498-STOP.
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