Two parents killed, 3 others shot in “very violent night” in Fresno, police chief says

A hail of assault rifle gunshots rang out at an apartment complex overnight Saturday, killing two parents of young children and ending what Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer described as “a very violent night in our city.”

At a news conference on Sunday, Dyer said four shootings occurred in the city Saturday night into Sunday morning. No arrests had been made any of the cases as of Sunday afternoon.

Two people were shot and killed around 2:22 a.m. Sunday near Ashlan and Fruit avenues that left three children without parents.

Five people, including three adult siblings and two teens, were parked in a car inside the Parks at Fig Garden apartment complex when several males walked up to the car and asked what they were doing there, Dyer told reporters Sunday.

The people inside the car did not provoke the incident in any way and were there visiting a friend Dyer said.

The group of men told the people in the car to leave.

According to Dyer, two of the men pulled out guns as the car was leaving — one had an assault rifle, the other a handgun — and fired 26 shots at the car.

Emergency dispatchers received 17 calls to 9-1-1 in connection with the incident.

The driver of the car was struck and lost control, plowing through a wall and into a nearby canal, Dyer said.

When police arrived 2 and a half minutes later, 17-year-old Nandi Williams was giving CPR to Kiara Austin, 19, on top of the car, which had floated about 150 yards away and was submerged in the canal.

Nandi was rescued by a K9 officer from the canal, Dyer said. The K9 wore a 50-foot leash, which Nandi tied around her waist and was pulled to safety. She was not shot, but she was taken to the hospital to treat injuries from the crash. She was released a short time later.

Victim Kiara Austin-CA63-4FB0-8AB3-48900BDC25B5.jpeg
Kiara Austin Fresno Police Department

Austin was pronounced dead from at least four gunshot wounds. She leaves behind 3-year-old twin sons and a 7-month-old daughter.

Brian Maxey, 20, also was killed. He suffered at least one wound to the upper body. He was the father of Austin’s 7-month-old daughter, Dyer said.

Both Austin and Maxey were pulled from the vehicle by the Fresno Fire Department.

Fresno Chief of Police Jerry Dyer holds a press conference about the weekend’s shootings, with a photo of victims shown in the background Sunday afternoon, April 28, 2019 in Fresno. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA

Two more people who escaped from inside the car were found at a nearby McDonald’s: Queshawn Maxey, 20, was hit in the left arm and Mary Maxey, 18, was not injured. Brian, Queshawn and Mary are all siblings.

Dyer said that after the shooting, the gunmen fled in a car, but returned to the complex soon after and circled around, attempting to find the victims they had not killed.

A motive for the shooting remained under investigation Sunday. Dyer urged the public to come forward and report any information to Detective Andre Benson at 559-906-9454.

More shootings earlier in the evening

Three other unrelated shootings earlier in the evening happened within 30 minutes of each other, and two men were injured.

At 8:36 p.m., a 26-year-old gang member who had just been released from prison two weeks prior was shot at 4854 N. Recreation Avenue. He was shot twice after being approached by someone, Dyer said.

At 8:55 p.m., a 32-year-old man who was intoxicated, yelling and hitting mailboxes, approached a man on a bike who pulled out a revolver and shot him after an argument, Dyer said. The victim put his hand up and the bullet went through his hand and into his shoulder. The shooting happened in the 5800 block of East Huntington Boulevard.

Both men are expected to survive.

A man who pulled over at 9:05 p.m. to lift up his convertible top on the 400 block of south Dearing Avenue was shot at, but not hit, Dyer said. Three gunshots hit his car.

No arrests were made any of the three shootings.

The statistics

Dyer said even including Saturday night, there’s been a 22% reduction in shootings this year. There have been 98 shootings and 11 murders so far in 2019, compared with 125 shootings and 15 murders at this time in 2018.

“But those reductions in shootings mean nothing to the families who have lost loved ones last night. We now have three small children who are left behind and do not have their parents with them.”

Anyone with information on any of the shootings is urged to contact Fresno police at 559-621-7000.

Ashleigh Panoo: 559-441-6010, @AshleighPanoo