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Extra Police Patrolling Santa Maria Streets after Friday Shooting Spree Kills 1, Injures 4

In the aftermath of three gang-related shootings that killed one man and injured four others, the Santa Maria Police Department has beefed up the number of patrol officers this weekend as detectives continue to investigate the Friday night crimes.

Ulises Garcia-Mendez, 17, was shot to death just before 8 p.m. Friday in the 1500 block of South Thornburg Street near West Enos Drive. The incident was the second of three shootings across the city.

Sgt. Jesus Valle said extra patrol officers are on the job this weekend in case of further violence.

“We want to make sure we’re staffed appropriately if something does happen,” he said.

Police also will contact known gang members as part of the increased law enforcement presence.

Along with the beefed-up patrols, another shooting was reported early Sunday on the 1100 block of West Williams Street, but no one was injured.

Shortly after 1 a.m., police responded and found that a bullet had struck and entered an inhabited dwelling.

Detectives were continuing to investigate the shooting spree, which began just before 6 p.m. with a report of shots fired near the 1200 block of West Bethel Lane off South Blosser Road.

Officers arrived to find a crime scene, and detectives began investigating when they were notified a shooting victim had been taken by private vehicle to Marian Medical Regional Center.

The victim, whose name and age have not been released, sustained gunshot wounds to his upper torso and was treated at the hospital for his injuries, which did not appear to be life-threatening.

Nearly two hours later, officers responded to South Thornburg Street, between Battles Road and West Enos, where three victims had been shot. Garcia-Mendez died at the scene; the other two were transported to local hospitals.

About a half-hour later, police received calls of gunshots heard near North Dejoy Street and West Cox Lane, south of West Donovan Road. Officers checked the area and were unable to locate any victims or a crime scene.

At about 9:33 p.m., a shooting victim arrived at the hospital via private vehicle. The investigation revealed the shooting occurred in the neighborhood of North Dejoy and West Williams Street. The victim’s injury did not appear to be life threatening.

Police said all three shootings appear to be gang related, but it’s not known if they are otherwise connected.

No suspects have been identified. Detectives are seeking help from anyone who may have information related to cases.

“We definitely encourage anyone who might have information regarding the shootings to come forward,” Valle said.

Anyone with details — even second-hand or third-hand information — about any of the incidents is asked to contact police at 805.928.3781 x2277.

The killing of Garcia-Mendez is Santa Maria’s 10th homicide of 2015. Six of those deaths are believed to have connections to criminal street gangs, police say.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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