Crime

Motive unknown in Fresno man's killing

Fresno police were still trying Wednesday to determine the motive for a fatal stabbing Tuesday in which an employee was killed at a facility neighbors described as a halfway house for men.

The Fresno County Coroner's Office identified the victim as Christopher J. Westrick, 32, who reportedly also lived at the two-house facility in the 300 block of East Fountain Way at North Palm Avenue in west-central Fresno.

A suspect, Jerry White, 51, a resident of the facility, was located at a nearby bus stop shortly after police arrived and was taken into custody without incident, Fresno police Lt. Mark Salazar said.

A knife believed to have been used in the stabbing was found near the bus stop, Salazar said.

The stabbing was reported at 5 p.m. at one of the two houses that make up the facility at 302 and 312 E. Fountain Way. Investigators have not yet determined the exact nature of the facility, Salazar said.

Westrick was found sprawled outside on the driveway of one of the houses and was taken to Community Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 5:30 p.m.

Investigators were still checking out initial reports that the stabbing occurred after an argument between the victim and the suspect during dinner, Salazar said.

Others who live in the facility declined to comment.

Miguel Moran, 47, a neighbor, said he was not happy having the facility next-door. Moran said the facility opened six years ago without any notice to the neighborhood, and that it has made him nervous letting his children -- two boys, ages 16 and 6 -- play outside.

Another neighbor, Brian Ratchford, 44, who has lived in the neighborhood for 18 years, said he understood why some people might feel nervous having the facility on their block, but that he has never seen any of the residents of the facility cause any problems.

"They pretty much stay to themselves," he said. "They're mostly good people."

He said he knew both the victim and the suspect and that they seemed to get along.

The slaying is the city's 43rd homicide this year, compared to 33 at this time last year.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact detective Mark Yee at (559) 621-2451 or Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP.

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