Detectives arrested one man in connection with , and say the violence was gang-motivated, the Sheriff's Office announced Thursday afternoon.
Alfredo Alanis Garcia, 21, is suspected of being behind the wheel of his carwhen one of his passengers opened fire on Fernando Martin Mendoza-Avila, also 21, according to the Sheriff's Office.
“We do believe he was targeted," sheriff's deputy April Skalland said of Mendoza-Avila. "We don’t believe it was random.”
Mendoza-Avila, a Live Oak resident, was mortally wounded and died at the scene. Garcia sped off with two others, who remain at-large Thursday, according to a press release prepared by Lt. Fred Plageman, who heads the Investigation Division at the Sheriff's Office.
Garcia was literally in the driver's seat of his car, a 2004 gray four-door Honda, in Watsonville when . Witnesses had given deputies the car's license plate number, Skalland said.
"They did find him in the driver's seat of the vehicle," Skalland said.
The car was impounded and Garcia, a Prunedale resident, was arrested, according to Plageman. Deputies would not say where in the city of Watsonville the car was found.
The deadly shooting occurred just after 6 p.m. when Mendoza-Avila and a friend walked from a family gathering near Bonita Drive to a business on opposite side of the highway, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The pair were near the southbound highway on ramp when the Honda, allegedly piloted by Garcia, drove by them and made a U-turn to come back. Someone fired shots at Mendoza-Avila and he was hit multiple times, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Several people came to help Mendoza-Avila, but were not able to save him. Relatives who had been at the family gathering nearby also rushed over.
An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday afternoon, according to the Sheriff's Office.
It has been reported that the men inside the car were wearing blue, a color commonly associated with Sureño street gangs. Skalland declined to elaborate on the gang connections in the case, except to say the assailants and the victim were not in the same gang.
The two suspects still at-large are described as Latino men in their late teens or early 20s.
Detectives have been aided by several witnesses. Plageman said the time of day and high volume of commute traffic meant more people were in the area when violence broke out.
“Sometimes, unfortunately these gang related homicides, our witnesses can be uncooperative. It’s hard to solve a crime… in this case we had a license of a vehicle we had multiple witness who were just witnesses because it was rush hour in a heavily populated area," Skalland said.
Anyone else with information about the case is encouraged to call the Investigation Division (831) 454-2311 or at the Sheriff Dispatch 24-hour phone number (831) 471-1121.
For all of Patch's coverage of the deadly drive-by shooting, click here.