About 50 police officers were involved in a yard-to-yard search in central Fresno for suspects in a drive-by shooting that overlapped with a call for service early Sunday in northeast Fresno where homeowner Guy Birrenkott was later found dead.
Chief Jerry Dyer said Wednesday that the search for the gunmen drew resources from both the northeast and northwest police divisions as a top priority call. A loud party – which was the initial call from the 8700 block of North Fuller Avenue, a few blocks east of Woodward Park – would be a lower priority call, the chief said. But once police received reports of a fight at the residence, officers from other areas of the city were directed there and were on scene within nine minutes.
The cause of death for Birrenkott, 57, is under investigation by police and the Fresno County coroner’s office. Dyer said earlier this week that investigators will wait for the results of lab tests, taking up to eight weeks. Police also put out a call asking for witnesses in the case.
Birrenkott owned the house where the party was taking place and reportedly was trying to shut it down.
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The drive-by shooting occurred in the 2000 block of East Pontiac Way, where the suspects fired on two people in a parked vehicle about 11:15 p.m., according to police. The suspects crashed their SUV at Maroa Avenue and Sussex Way, three blocks south of Ashlan Avenue in the Fig Garden area. Dyer said an officer witnessed the crash, prompting the yard-to-yard search. Several hours later, police arrested Javonni Lavender, 22, Ryan Myles, 25, and Delonte Love, 24, and recovered an assault rifle.
Police reported that they received reports approximately 1:30 a.m. of loud music, marijuana smoke and possibly minors drinking at the Fuller address. At 2:12 a.m., additional information was received that the party was out of control and about 30 people were involved in a disturbance in the street. Dyer said that’s when police were pulled off other calls and sent to the scene.
Officers found Birrenkott, who was not breathing, on the front lawn and began CPR. Ambulances were called and paramedics took over lifesaving efforts, but were unable to revive him.
Jim Guy: 559-441-6339