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Murder shatters neighborhood’s peace & tranquility

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POSTED June 27, 2013 1:15 a.m.

Pat Olivieri was asleep in her bed when she heard something completely out of the ordinary for her sleepy rural hamlet.


It wasn’t that people who live near her don’t have them. It wasn’t even that they don’t ride them. There was just something different about the way that these particular motorcycles were being ridden – the engines were being pushed harder, almost in an attempt to announce their presence and let neighbors know that they were there.

And then she heard them. Gunshots.

What Olivieri didn’t realize at the time was that a ghastly scene was unfolding just 200 yards behind her home – one of dozens in the unique San Joaquin County pocket neighborhood built on the inside of the levee of the San Joaquin River that all but requires the living quarters to be built on stilts for when the floodwaters come.

A 51-year-old electrician that had bought the home just a street over from Olivieri’s three years ago had been shot three times, according to witnesses, by a pair of bikers who had reportedly been hanging out all day at a nearby bar.

The culprits had made a puzzling parade through the neighborhood before they reportedly ended up out in the front of the victim’s house – spinning donuts and burning out in an attempt to get him out from behind the green wrought iron gate that separated his yard from the street.

A struggled ensued, and Michael David Lawrence sustained a pair of gunshot wounds to his trunk and one to his head. From the story that Olivieri heard, the neighbor that tried to do chest compressions didn’t see the shot that likely killed the father of four until after they had already begun chest compressions.

“This kind of stuff doesn’t happen here,” she said, taking a break from washing down her deck. “You move in here, and you don’t move out. This is the kind of place where you can rely on your neighbors and you know the people around you.

“It makes it scary when something like this happens, and then you hear that he didn’t do anything to deserve it. And then you hear that his 8-year-old daughter witnessed the whole thing? That she just kept saying, ‘Daddy, wake up.’ That’s a horrible memory that she’s going to have to live with for the rest of her life, and it’s something that never should have taken place.”

San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested one of the two men believed to be responsible – 23-year-old Michael Lee Roessler – after he crashed his motorcycle through a fence on McKinley Avenue.

He was scheduled to appear before a Superior Court judge on charges that included murder (first-hand witness accounts, however, have claimed that he was not the one who fired the shots) Wednesday afternoon but his court appearance was rescheduled at the last minute for Friday.

The identity, and the whereabouts, of the second man remain a mystery. A San Joaquin County Sheriff’s spokesman would only say that the investigation is ongoing.

Cece Kelley wasn’t home at the sprawling estate that she just recently purchased when the entire event went down, but she heard about it from neighbors and friends that have lived in the area for years.

It hit close to home for the former Milpitas resident in the process of relocating to the Central Valley with her husband for the relaxed pace of life – an escape from the traffic and the hustle and the crime that comes with living around large groups of people.

“You come here for quality of life,” she said. “This just doesn’t seem to go with that.”

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