Livermore Drive-By Shooting May Be Tied to Fresno, Sacramento Murders | NBC Bay Area
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Livermore Drive-By Shooting May Be Tied to Fresno, Sacramento Murders

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Nearly two days have passed since a man was shot dead and another gravely injured outside a Livermore business, and police continue to search for two armed and dangerous suspects – one of whom is also on the run from Fresno police. Chuck Coppola reports. (Published Monday, Oct. 26, 2015)

    Two days have passed since a man was shot dead and another gravely injured outside a Livermore business, and police continue to search for two armed and dangerous suspects – one of whom is also on the run from Fresno police.

    The suspect – identified as Jason Alexander Brown, 18, of Oakland – is not only wanted in connection to Saturday's drive-by shooting, but also the September shooting death of a man at a Thai eatery in central Fresno.

    According to police, dispatch fielded a number of 911 calls just after 6 p.m. Saturday with reports of a shooting in a CVS Pharmacy parking lot. Officers arrived at 1500 First Street within two minutes and found two men in their 20s suffering from gunshots inside a parked car.

    Brown is believed to be the gunman who opened fire into the vehicle, police said.

    The victims were identified late Monday as 32-year-old Jose Mendoza — the driver who was pronounced dead at the scene — and 22-year-old Ulizes Benitez. Both are Turlock residents, police said.

    Benitez, who was in the front passenger seat and was shot multiple times, underwent surgery at an undisclosed hospital and remains in critical condition, according to police. 

    According to witness accounts, the suspects raced away Saturday in a 2006 BMW 325i whose license plate number is 5PLR682. The car, which is black and sports a pair of red racing stripes on its hood, is registered to Brown, police said.

    Witnesses described the driver – later identified as Brown – as a tall, thin African-American man wearing a beanie. They also reported that a large-caliber assault rifle was used in the shooting, according to police.

    Police said Brown and his accomplice fled from the CVS parking lot onto Railroad Avenue. California Highway Patrol officers located their vehicle on I-580 and initiated a pursuit, but the pair gave them the slip in Oakland.

    Livermore detectives obtained a no-bail warrant late Saturday for Brown’s arrest on one count of murder and one count of attempted murder as well as a search warrant to comb through his mother’s West Oakland residence, police said.

    Brown wasn’t home when a SWAT team stormed the Center Street property late that night, but police have been able to locate his BMW and impound it.

    A motive and circumstances surrounding the shooting remain under investigation, according to police.

    "I think when people think of assault rifles and shootings, they think gangs and drugs, but we're not saying what the cause was," Livermore police officer Ryan Sanchez said.

    Meanwhile, Fresno police Lt. Burke Farrah said Albert Thao, 27, was killed and another man was wounded by gunfire as they were eating in MeKhong Restaurant on Sept. 12. A suspect – believed to be Brown – was seen leaving the scene in a gray Dodge Charger, he said.

    Investigators in Sacramento are also looking into Brown’s role in a third murder that took place Sept. 28.

    Anyone who sees the suspects is asked to stay away from them and immediately call 911 or the Livermore Police Department-Public Information Officer line at 925-371-4777.

    Bay City News contributed to this report.

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