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Gunned down in front of family

Killer shoots 3 times, roars away on motorcycle

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Gunned down in front of family

A white cross on the center line of Williamson Road was placed there by the family of Michael David Lawrence to show where their husband, father and grandfather died from the gunshot wounds. Lawre...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED June 25, 2013 1:43 a.m.

A Manteca electrician who moved his family to a residential area near the Turtle Beach Resort three years ago was gunned down in front of his home on Saturday following a quarrel with two bikers outside the Islander Bar earlier in the evening.

Michael David Lawrence, 51, suffered three fatal gunshot wounds – two to the chest and one to the head – delivered at close range.

The gunman evaded law enforcement officials and remains at large, but his accomplice, Michael Lee Roessler, was arrested after crashing through a road barrier and into cornfield along McKinley Avenue.

The man’s wife, 8-year-old daughter and sister-in-law witnessed the shooting that came at 9:18 p.m., following a day of celebrating at Turtle Beach.  They had returned to his home in the 800 block of Williamson Road about a half mile from the resort area just southwest of Manteca beyond the gated community that replaced the Manteca Waterslides.

Family members said Lawrence had ridden his dirt bike from the family get-together to pick up a 12-pack of beer.  The two bikers reportedly confronted Lawrence outside the bar, degrading his bike, him and the people who live in the residential area as all being gay.

Lawrence’s relatives had followed him to get the beer and witnessed the confrontation that led to the men following him home; later searching him out in front of his residence on Williamson Road.

Family members and neighbors alike said the two Harley Davidson motorcycles – one purple and one yellow – roared through the usually quiet neighborhood.  They added that the duo stopped in front of the Lawrence home and performed circles in the roadway, drawing him out through a wrought iron gate.

“He walked out of the driveway and onto the roadway and that’s when they got him,” a close relative who had been at the home recalled.

His wife of 29 years was in the shower, family members said.  Sensing something was terribly wrong by the roar of the motorcycles she quickly dressed and ran to the front yard to see both bikers attack her husband with the taller of the two shooting him “with a small hand gun.”  Witnesses added that the bikers had been at the bar all day long Saturday.

“I thought they were going to shoot all of us,” the man’s sister-in-law said Monday as family and friends were placing fresh flowers on an ornate cross along the edge of Williamson Road only feet from where he had fallen.

A 29-year-old neighbor performed chest compressions immediately after the shooting, but to no avail.

“I saw him lift up his shirt.  I yelled, ‘He’s got a gun – he’s got a gun,’ ” the man’s sister-in-law remembered. She added that Lawrence’s wife had grabbed the shirt of one biker and attempted to pull him down, but he retaliated by hitting her with his helmet, knocking her to the ground.

“The saddest thing in the world is that his daughter had to witness this,” the girl’s aunt stated as she stood with family members gathered in the roadway in front of the man’s home.

The bikers had reportedly parked their motorcycles on the road facing the small community’s only exit out toward Woodward Avenue. After the shooting they roared off. Roessler, the shorter of the two men, rode his bike north on McKinley Avenue at high speed and crashed through a wooden barrier where the road dead ends into a cornfield. The force of the impact split the barrier open and he was thrown into the field.  It was unknown what direction the other suspect fled the scene.

Manteca Police officers were dispatched to the crash site and detained Roessler, 22, who was taken into custody by Sheriff’s deputies before being admitted to a local hospital for his injuries. He was released Monday evening and booked into the San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp on three felony charges including murder and conspiracy to commit a crime.

He is being held without bail and is scheduled to appear before a judge at the Stockton Courthouse on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. Roessler was identified at the scene by a family member who told deputies that he was not the actual shooter.

The shooter was described by family witnesses as being a Caucasian, standing about 6-foot-1, with no hair and pale white skin.

Williamson, an electrician who worked in Livermore, leaves behind: his wife; three daughters, 8, 26 and 27 years old; one son, 23; a 4-year-old grandson; and another grandson expected to be born next month.

Anyone with information about the alleged shooter is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (209) 823-4636 where they can remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the outstanding suspect.

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