A pregnant woman was fatally shot and her baby was delivered by emergency cesarean section Thursday night in Visalia, police said.
The victim has been identified as Vanessa Rose Oviedo, 27, of Visalia.
Lt. Brian Winter said Friday that police believe the shooting is gang-related, but detectives are still investigating.
About 9:20 p.m. Thursday, officers were sent to the area of Ben Maddox Way and Houston Avenue for a report of shots heard. En route they were notified about two shooting victims at Kaweah Delta Medical Center.
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We suspect the vehicle was targeted.
Lt. Brian Winter, Visalia Police Department
Oviedo, who was shot in the head, was 35 weeks pregnant. The delivered child is in stable condition, police said.
Oviedo was put on a gurney by nurses and bought into the emergency department.
Originally, she was reported as a woman in delivery, but when medics said she had a gunshot wound and no pulse, Dr. Renee DeNolf, a second-year resident, and Dr. Steven Warrington jumped into action to save the baby.
The procedure took 30 seconds, said emergency room physician Greggory Shubert.
“It was heroic,” he said. “This is something we’re taught to do, but this rarely occurs.” He said he knows of no such event in 20 years at the hospital.
If the staff had waited another 90 seconds the baby would have died, he said.
After the baby was delivered, the hospital tried to resuscitate the mother but it was too late, he said.
The second victim, an adult male, had a gunshot wound to the leg. He was identified as Andrew Aguirre, 23, of Visalia. He was released later Friday from the hospital.
Three other people involved in the shooting, including an 11-month-old child, were unharmed.
Police said all five were in a vehicle traveling on Ben Maddox Way when they were shot at by occupants of another car.
“We suspect the vehicle was targeted,” Winter said. “Who was the target in the vehicle? We are investigating that.”
The car was stopped in the left-turn lane at Houston Avenue while heading north on Ben Maddox Way when another car drove up on the left and opened fire.
The assailant’s car was a small compact vehicle, but police don’t know the color. Investigators have not released the name of any suspect.
The driver, Aguirre, took his four passengers to Kaweah Delta.
Anyone with information about the shooting can call police Detective Brian Somavia at 559-713-4727 or the anonymous Crime Line at 559-713-4738.