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Diner dodges death
Wild shootout in restaurant parking lot
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Fearing for her life while witnessing an exchange of gunfire, a longtime Manteca resident ran toward the safety of the front door of Denny’s Restaurant on South Main Street at about 2:40 a.m. Saturday as she saw a gunman fire two shots in her direction from a fleeing pickup truck.

“Glass busting and bullets flying at me,” was the woman’s recollection of the incident that she will never forget as she was on her way home to be with her husband who was in need of her care.

The late night patron had run from the restaurant when she saw two men arguing at a table both flashing guns toward each other from their waistbands, she said. After going outside and seeing the gunfire erupt, she attempted to get a license number, quickly realizing that she was being recognized as the only viable witness.

The mother of three East Union High grads had been visiting friends down from her new home in Northern California. She had stopped by the South Main Street eatery to have a cup of coffee and a little something to eat before heading out of town. One of her friends was a waitress there noting that she really just stopped to give her a hug.

Running for the front door from the parking lot, she dove for the ground crawling the rest of the way into the restaurant when one of the bullets struck a metal framed advertisement near the counter when a fragment cut into her foot leaving a gash that required six stitches at a Manteca hospital.

 The victim said a man with a towel came to her aid and put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. Doctors told her later that there was possible tendon damage when she was released at 7 a.m. on crutches.

One round went across tables & lodged in a wall

She told her story to the Bulletin over the phone as she was driving out of town Saturday morning, her voice still crackling from her early morning brush with death. The woman said her husband is a gunsmith and she has handled weapons herself in the past. One of the guns was a semi-automatic hand gun, she noted, Police said the other was possibly a .40 caliber weapon.

Sgt. Julie Renfro said that five shell casings were found outside the restaurant. She said there were holes in the door frame and in the news racks. One round went across the tables into the restaurant and into the back wall, she added. The Monterey Water business across South Main Street had one of the bullets go through their window.

Sgt. Renfro gave descriptions of the two men as one being a Hispanic male adult 20 to 25 years old with a baseball cap, white T-shirt, baggie pants accompanied by a 20-year-old Asian female with long black hair and braces.

She said the second male was also believed to be of Hispanic decent with short hair and a mustache wearing a long sleeve black shirt.

The woman related going into the restaurant at about 2 a.m. planning to have a small stack of hotcakes and a cup of coffee. She had taken a booth across from a group of three 20-year-olds who were sitting in the left rear of the dining room beyond the counter.

She said there wasn’t a problem for some 45 minutes as they enjoyed their orders and talked very quietly. One of the eventual shooters was sitting at that table who she described as being of Hispanic, Filipino decent.

She said the male was sleeping at the table until his food arrived.

A second group led by a taller individual walked by that table and she heard the N-word used several times at the youth who was sitting there. With that she recognized an argument was beginning between the two as the standing light skinned male lifted his white T-shirt and displayed a hand gun in his waist band.

She said that with seeing him flash his gun at his waist, she was shocked to see the other man at the table lean back in his booth and raise his shirt flashing his weapon in response. The taller of the two motioned that they go outside.

The victim and another woman sitting across from her both took the initiative to slide out of their seats and head for the door, saying she realized there was going to be trouble.

Moving quickly toward the exit, she remembered telling the male host of the restaurant near the counter that the men had guns and he should call 911.

She said she ran to her vehicle and was fumbling for her keys when the one shooter ran out the door backwards shooting toward the restaurant door at the taller male who was coming after him.

“They were cross firing over my car,” she added.

She dropped to the ground next to her car door with one of the two men shooting over her hood, saying she felt that she was going to be killed.

“They shot at a truck – blew out a windshield – as I was hunched on the side by my door,” she said. It was then that she ran back toward the front door. According to police, one of the bullets went through the restaurant and ricocheted off of the back wall.

One of the men took off running toward Safeway and the other was driving off in a newer model burgundy truck with a shooter firing at her at the door of the restaurant as his female Asian friend was driving.

She also was a victim in 2005 bank robbery

The victim said she is beginning to believe she has nine lives since she was involved in a bank robbery at Washington Mutual in the 100 block of East Center Street in 2005. She said she had come down to Manteca also to attend the city-wide Ripon garage sale on Saturday as well.

She said that after being released from the hospital she returned to the restaurant to retrieve her shoe that was lost in the fracas – it wasn’t there.

While in the restaurant parking lot she was shocked to see a dark green Toyota Corolla drive by with a driver she recognized as the tall shooter. He was wearing aviator sunglasses with a black hoody and had partially tinted windows.

She said he drove over by the Walmart garden center and returned looking into the restaurant windows as if he were looking for someone. A short time later when she drove toward Highway 99 on her way home, she noticed the same car was following her, she said.

The green vehicle turned off at Lathrop Road, she said, and she had called police to inform them of the incident.