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Drive-by shooting terrorizes dinner crowd

Two bullets narrowly miss customers; three hit by flying glass shards

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Drive-by shooting terrorizes dinner crowd

The drive-by shooting in the crowded Las Casuelas Mexican Restaurant at West Yosemite Avenue and Winters Drive took place Saturday.

AMY ABERER/The Bulletin


POSTED May 6, 2012 5:57 p.m.

A drive-by shooter put two rounds through the front windows of a Yosemite Avenue Mexican restaurant shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday night missing customers by inches and injuring three young women at their table with glass shards.

It was the fourth drive-by shooting in eight days including two in front of Manteca businesses and one at a city park.

One of the women who had been sitting at the table by a dining room window was transported to an area hospital and the other two told Manteca Police officers they would seek medical attention on their own.

The Las Casuelas Restaurant, 1580 West Yosemite Ave., was packed for the Cinco de Mayo celebration with every seat taken and the lobby filled with diners waiting for a table. Recently retired Manteca Police Street Crimes Unit Sergeant Danny Erb, who is affiliated with the restaurant, said one bullet missed him by less than two feet.

One window that was struck was in the lobby and the other was just to the east in the dining room, both facing Yosemite Avenue. Witnesses said those in the lobby and others sitting in the dining room instinctively dropped to the floor -- many attempted to get under their tables after hearing the shots and seeing glass fly.

Two other young women in their late teens to early 20s fled the restaurant and were seen within the hour at the SaveMart market on North Main Street telling of their experience and still picking glass shards out of their hair.

Police watch commander Sgt. Wayne Miller wrote in his report that the suspect vehicle in the shooting had been westbound on Yosemite Avenue and was seen crossing Airport Way shortly after the bullets were fired at a high rate of speed.

Witnesses said the fleeing vehicle was dark gray in color with tinted windows believed to be possibly a Toyota Corolla or a Chevy Impala.

Miller noted that one spent round that had been fired through the lobby had been found in the bar area of the restaurant. A restaurant spokesman was quoted as saying there were no known problems with patrons or with former employees who might have been retaliating against the establishment.

Anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the shooter or shooters may qualify for a $1,000 reward from Crime Stoppers. Call 823-4636 to learn more information about the reward while remaining anonymous.

It was business as usual on Sunday at the restaurant as the windows had been replaced.

The other drive-by shootings included:

•The evening of Saturday, April 28, at Library Park where gunfire was exchanged from the occupants of two vehicles terrorizing a family at a celebration. No one was hurt. Police found numerous .40-caliber shell casings near the park and a loaded gun in front of 230 Poplar Ave. that had scratches consistent with being thrown from a vehicle. Officers caught up with one vehicle, removed the occupants at gunpoint and arrested one suspect.

•Also on the evening of Saturday, April 28, shots were fired from a moving vehicle in the parking lot in front of the North Main Street SaveMart following the exchange of “hard looks” between two groups of young men. Four shots were fired in all.

•A 20-year-old Hmong gang member was shot in the leg and in the arm during a drive-by shooting in the 1000 block of Virginia Street in Central Manteca on Monday, April 30.

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