Santa Maria’s first homicide of 2013 occurred Tuesday night when a 24-year-old man was gunned down in what investigators say appears to be a gang-related slaying.
The Santa Maria victim, who was identified Thursday as Michel Raygoza Hernandez, was taken by ambulance to Marian Regional Medical Center, where he was declared dead, according to Santa Maria police Lt. Norm Come.
The shooting occurred at about 6:30 p.m. in the 500 block of West Mill Street, in the vicinity of Mill and Smith streets, Come said.
When police arrived, officers found the 24-year-old Hispanic man lying in the street with apparent gunshot wounds, according to police Sgt. Terry Flaa.
Witnesses provided investigators with a description of a vehicle leaving the scene immediately after the shooting, he said.
Flaa said detectives located a vehicle matching the description during their investigation, which is now in custody.
Investigators are still working to identify persons of interest in the shooting, Flaa said.
Few other details were immediately available, but Come confirmed that the slaying “appears to be gang-related.”
On Wednesday morning, the mostly Spanish-speaking neighborhood dotted with tall palm trees four blocks north of Main Street was relatively quiet, with no visible signs of Tuesday night’s shooting.
A passerby said she had been walking home from work the night before when she saw a flurry of police cars on Mill Street.
She said the block on Mill between Smith and Curryer streets was closed off for some time, although she wasn’t aware of why until now.
“Wow,” she said, thankful to have not been in the area when the shooting occurred.
More details are expected to be released as the murder investigation progresses, Flaa said.
Anyone with information about this crime and/or the victim is encouraged to contact the Santa Maria Police Department at 928-3781, ext. 277 or they can call Crime Stoppers at 1-877-800-9100.