Suspected Fresno gang member will stand trial for murder

The Fresno BeeJune 4, 2014 

A suspected Bulldog gang member will stand trial for murder in the fatal drive-by shooting of an 18-year-old Fresno man and the attempted murder of three of his friends, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Brian Alvarez made his ruling after hearing testimony that Richard Melendez, 20, fired several shots into a car driven by Bryan Flores. The gunfire killed Flores but missed his three friends who were passengers in the car.

The shooting happened in March near Ashlan and Marks avenues in central Fresno.

Wednesday, witnesses at Melendez's preliminary hearing testified that Flores was not in a gang, but one of his passengers once belonged to a gang that is a rival of the Bulldogs. According to testimony, the passenger had a prior confrontation with Melendez.

After the shooting, the passenger, who once went to school with Melendez, identified Melendez as the shooter who was in another car that had pulled up next to Flores' car.

If convicted of murder to promote a street gang, Melendez will face life in prison, prosecutor Ron Wells said.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6434, or @beecourts on Twitter.

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