Prunedale Field Worker Slain in Parking Lot Shooting

The homicide is the third gang-related fatal shooting in Watsonville this month.

A Prunedale field worker with Sureño gang ties was .

Police identified the murder victim as Gustavo Diaz Saragoza, 20.

Saragoza and his girlfriend, a 25-year-old Prunedale woman, were walking through the Target parking lot on Main Street around 6:15 p.m. when Saragoza was confronted by someone with a green Honda Accord, according to police.

Saragoza and his girlfriend walked away, toward their vehicle. The Honda circled around, and someone inside the car fired several shots from a handgun, police said.

Both Saragoza and his girlfriend were hit. He died at the scene. She was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover, according to police.

"We know for sure he was targeted," Watsonville police Detective Morgan Chappell said Sunday, adding that investigators aren't certain if the shooter also meant to hit Saragoza's girlfriend.

Two people were in the Accord. It sped away after the shooting. No arrests have been made.

"We have promising leads but we can't obviously disclose what they are," Chappell said. "The incident was captured on video, which is good.”

The brazen daytime attack sent shock waves through Watsonville, a community that has been plagued with violent gang crimes this summer.

Hector Rodriguez was walking through the parking lot on the Ross side with his wife and son when they heard the shots.

"So sad things like this still happen in our town," Rodriguez wrote on the Watsonville Patch Facebook page.

"This was in broad daylight in one of the busiest places in Watsonville," Rodriguez wrote. "They have cameras outside the buildings in the parking lot and also a lot of people who where able to see what happened. I hope they catch the gang bangers who did this."

Saragoza's death is the third gang-related murder in Watsonville this month. ; . There also were two gang-related killings in Watsonville earlier in the year.

None of the gang killings have been solved.

Police said they don't believe Saturday's fatal shooting is connected to the prior homicides.

Chappell said Saragoza had ties to Sureños, a Latino street gang that identifies with the color blue and number 13. Sureños and Norteños, the dominate gang in Watsonville, are rivals. Norteños claim red and the number 14.

But Saragoza hadn't been in much trouble before, according to police.

"We've never come into contact with him before," Chappell said, speaking for Watsonville police. "He has been arrested in Monterey County but not here."

Saragoza's arrests were for minor crimes, including one for being drunk in public, Chappell explained.

Saragoza was from Oxnard. He moved to Prunedale in 2009 to work in the fields and bounced between the two communities following the harvest, according to Chappell.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting is asked to call the WPD Investigation Division at 831-768-3350 or the Crime Tip Line at 831-768-3544.

RP July 25, 2011 at 12:01 AM
Thank you for the update regarding the victim being a field worker very important information to know.
CCC July 25, 2011 at 09:15 AM
Calling all gangs... Better hope I'm not on your jury! I bet your Moms are proud :(
jessica hernandez July 25, 2011 at 06:50 PM
Sad to see that watsonville is turning into another salinas.):


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