Late Wednesday, Elk Grove police traveled to rural Stanislaus County to arrest a drug dealer they suspect of shooting a 19-year-old man in the head outside a record store Sunday night.
The fatal gunshot was fired, police allege, after the suspect carjacked the victim after selling him prescription drugs, according to documents filed in Sacramento Superior Court.
Officers returned Ryan Allan Hays, 25, to Sacramento County and booked him in the Main Jail. He faces charges of murder, robbery and carjacking in the death of Joseph Oropesa, with a special circumstance allegation that the murder occurred during a robbery, according to the district attorney's complaint against Hays.
A few blocks from the Stanislaus County home where Hays was found, officers recovered the 1992 Ford Explorer that Hays had stolen from Oropesa by force, according to police.
The suspect had shaved his shoulder-length hair, goatee and mustache, said police spokesman Officer Chris Trim.
"He obviously had changed his appearance," Trim said. "He knew that he was wanted. He was probably making plans to get out of Dodge, as they say."
About 9:30 p.m. Sunday, police received a call reporting a gunshot and a man down in front of the Dimple Records store on Elk Grove Florin Road near Elk Grove Boulevard.
There, police found Oropesa still alive with a gunshot wound to the head. Oropesa later died at a local hospital.
A friend of Oropesa's who witnessed the shooting told police they were there because Oropesa wanted to buy some prescription OxyContin to sell on the street, according to the request for an arrest warrant filed in Superior Court.
The friend said Oropesa sold prescription painkillers "on a regular basis and now more than ever because he is trying to make some extra money," Elk Grove Police Detective Jim Kang wrote in the warrant request. Oropesa needed the money, the friend noted, to support his 2-month-old baby.
That Sunday, Oropesa arranged by phone to meet a "fairly well-known local narcotics dealer" by the name of "Heff" outside the Dimple Records, Kang wrote. He drove there in his girlfriend's Ford Explorer, with the friend in the passenger seat.
The friend said Oropesa paid "Heff" $400 from a wad of cash in his pocket for 30 OxyContin pills, according to the affidavit. After the exchange, the friend said, "Heff" yelled, "You're getting jacked! Get out of the car!"
As Oropesa got out and approached "Heff," the friend saw the dealer pull up his shirt to reveal a handgun, Kang wrote.
"(The friend) clearly saw this and knew that the handgun was real," he wrote. "Oropesa also thought that the gun was real because he suddenly back away from Heff."
But after the dealer got behind the wheel and tried to pull away, Oropesa tried to confront him through the open driver's window, two witnesses told police, according to the warrant request.
"Suddenly and without any apparent provocation Heff shot Oropesa in the face," Kang wrote of the friend's account.
The dealer then fled in the Ford Explorer.
According to the affidavit, police began homing in on Hays on Monday. They did so with the help of Oropesa's friend and an acquaintance of Hays who accompanied him to the deal Sunday night and also witnessed the shooting.
Both witnesses identified Hays in photographs, Kang wrote.
This is the second violent crime Hays has been held to answer to in Sacramento Superior Court. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon, according to court records available online. A second assault charge later was dismissed.
For his crime, Hays was sentenced to 210 days of work furlough, and four years of formal, searchable probation, according to the online records.
Earlier this week, Oropesa's family said he was an outgoing and adventurous teen who recently had started working at a manufacturing plant.