Update: Drive-By Shooting Suspects Chased Down, Caught

Three teens were arrested following a police chase and manhunt.

Update, 9 a.m. Tuesday: Three teenagers who may be linked to a drive-by shooting from a car near Starlight Elementary School on Monday afternoon were chased down by police officers and arrested, Watsonville police reported.

The melee began around 4:21 p.m. when shots were fired near Pennsylvania and Clifford avenues. Witnesses told police the bullets came from a car similar to a maroon Honda that sped north up Pennsylvania Avenue toward Green Valley Road, according to Sgt. Tony Magdayao.

WPD officer Brad Chagnon spotted a maroon Mitsubishi as it ran a stop sign near Anna Street and Technology Drive. Chagnon tried to stop the car for the vehicle code violation in the parking lot of the Watsonville Community Hospital at 75 Nielsen Rd., but the Mitsubishi failed to obey his command. During the attempted car stop, one of the passengers jumped out of the Mitsubishi and ran off through a field of thick brush just north of the hospital, Magdayao said. 

Chagnon followed the Mitsubishi, but sent other officers after the suspect who ran away. The California Highway Patrol, Sheriff's Office and a Capitola Police dog responded to help surround the young man, and he was located and arrested. He is 14 years old, police reported.

Meanwhile, Chagnon pursued the Mitsubishi to a parking lot at Watsonville Square Shopping Center, at Green Valley Road and Main Street, where it crashed into a parked car. The driver and passenger ran, but were chased down by officers and arrested. The driver was identified as Merino Zarate, 19, and the passenger was identified as Ernesto Murrillo, 18, according to Magdayao.

Police reported that Zarate, the driver, had been drinking alcohol.

Zarate and Murillo both were booked into Santa Cruz County Jail; the 14-year-old was sent home with his parents. Charges for the three include evading police and resisting arrest. The driver also could face DUI and hit and run charges, Magdayao reported.

Detectives continue to investigate the shooting and, late Monday, had not determined if the three teens were connected to the gun violence. No weapon has been found, police reported.

Original story, 10 p.m. Monday: Watsonville police urged people to avoid the Airport Boulevard-Westgate Drive area for hours Monday afternoon as officers searched for an armed man believed to be involved in a drive-by shooting, police reported.

No one was injured in the shooting, at the corner of Pennsylvania and Hammer drives, but the violence scared many. Read this eye-witness account in the Register Pajaronian newspaper and view photos of the police action.

Watsonville police Lt. David McCartney said officers detained three people following the shooting, which happened near , the same area as .

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that an officer spotted a vehicle thought to be involved in the shooting.

Police issued a warning people to steer clear of the Airport Bouelvard area around 4:40 p.m., then sent out an all-clear 30 minutes later.

Bill Neighbors July 17, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Another good job by WPD, now let's see if the DA does something with them"""" Bill N
Cathy P. July 17, 2012 at 03:14 PM
And a big thank you to the witnesses who actually called in to help WPD catch these losers. Great job WPD!
David H. Perez July 17, 2012 at 03:42 PM
A great job by our police department as usual! I agree with Bill - hopefully the DA will see that these losers do not see the light of day for a long time, if not for good.
shelley beach July 17, 2012 at 06:38 PM
why was the 14 year old released to his parents? when my son was involved as a juvenile in minor offenses he was always take to juvenile hall. there is a huge bias that the police have with certain individuals is sickens me.
David H. Perez July 17, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Shelley, I agree with you that the 14-year-old should not have been released, but you need to know this was not the fault of the police. Over the past decade or more, there has been this big "Juvenile Detention Reform" movement sweeping the nation. When many juvenile halls receive kids especially who are 14 years of age or younger, they are now required to find alternatives to incarceration. Supposedly, research has shown that incarceration makes youths' criminality worse. Of course, I don't know what could be worse than this little creep taking part in a drive-by shooting where innocent people could have lost their lives. Unfortunately, it seems now that you cannot lock a kid up any more unless they have committed mass murder. Releasing him to parents who have already done a bad job raising him doesn't seem to make sense to me. So much for the safety of the community!
Jennifer Squires July 17, 2012 at 09:06 PM
I think part of the issue is that the police haven't tied these guys to the drive-by shooting yet. Their charges are relatively minor (resisting arrest, etc).
shelley beach July 19, 2012 at 12:18 AM
well david and jennifer my son ran from the police one time and he ran home, i got woken up by someone yelling in my home. it was a police officer who kicked in my door and had a taser pointed at him. the cop was yelling at my son to get on the ground, when he complied my son was literally DRAGGED out of mny home. he could have cuffed him and walked him out of the house. they took him to the hall for resisting arrest. ppl at the hall called me the next day to pick him up. they said they didnt understand why he was brought there for that. THATS WHERE THE BIAS IS IN MY EYES
Adrian July 19, 2012 at 05:48 PM
All theses gangbangers should be fumigated. There cocharoches.... they risk the lives of inocent people. There cowards doing drive by shootings.Hope that 14 year old wannabe got the belt...
HizDesign September 23, 2012 at 06:32 PM
I questioned the same thing....WHY was he released to his parents? Lock him up.....geeeezzzz.......


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