Crime

Sheriff’s SWAT deputy kills Riverside murder suspect in Coalinga gunbattle

A man sought in a double homicide in Riverside was shot and killed by a Fresno County sheriff’s deputy Wednesday in Coalinga after he stormed out of a home firing a handgun at a SWAT team, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

The identity of the man, who died at the scene, was not immediately released. The gunfight broke out in the 600 block of West College Avenue, where the sheriff’s SWAT team arrived to assist U.S. marshals in making the arrest, sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said.

The 24-year-old suspect was sought in connection with a double murder in the Southern California city in October 2015. Botti said SWAT officers had set up a perimeter around the home where the suspect was hiding and made announcements through a loudspeaker. He said the suspect came out of the house armed with the weapon and opened fire. A deputy fired back, mortally wounding the suspect.

A paramedic on the scene tried to provide medical aid, but the man died a short time later, Botti said. No one else was injured.

The man was wanted in connection with the Oct. 23, 2015, shooting of two Guatemalan immigrants in Riverside’s eastside neighborhood. The victims – identified as Juan Bartolo, 45, and Domingo Esteban, 26 – appeared to be random victims of gang violence who were targeted because they were Hispanic, Riverside police Sgt. Bill McCoy told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

The victims “have zero gang affiliation,” McCoy told the newspaper.

They and a third man, who survived, were shot a block away from an elementary school when a four-door sedan pulled up and two men got out and opened fire. The suspects were described by police as African Americans.

In Coalinga, the homicide detectives with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Marshal’s Service and Riverside police were gathering evidence and interviewing the others – three adults and two children – who were inside the home at the time of the shooting.

Jim Guy: 559-441-6339, @jimguy27

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