Gun tied to 18-year-old suspect in Merced attempted murder

Merced police on Monday said an 18-year-old man is suspected of attempted murder after lab tests on a gun tied him to a May 16 shooting that injured a 26-year-old man.

Suspect Robert Yanez Jr., described by police as a “known gang member,” was arrested June 5 after officers tried to speak with him, and he ran away. Police captured Yanez after a foot chase and found him in possession of a handgun.

Sgt. Scott Skinner said tests determined shell casings, found at the scene of the shooting, were from the gun that had been in Yanez’s possession. Skinner said Yanez matched the suspect’s description. Merced police received the results of the tests earlier this month.

“There is no doubt this is the gun,” Skinner said.

Skinner said the victim remains hospitalized from his wounds in stable condition.

The shooting was reported about 8:30 p.m. May 16, a few weeks prior to Yanez’s arrest. Officers responded to the scene in the 500 block of M Street and found the victim on the ground next to his vehicle. The victim told police he had just arrived at an apartment complex with another person. After exiting the vehicle, the victim and the other person were confronted by two people armed with handguns. The attackers told the victim and the person he was with to leave the area, according to a Merced police press release.

The two gunmen then began firing, injuring the victim. The other person was unhurt.

The shooters were last seen running across the street toward a memorial gathering for Luis Zavaleta, 15, who had been shot to death about a week earlier. Police confirmed there were gang members at the memorial.

Yanez was arrested by police on June 5 while walking in the 800 block of M Street, which is an area where gangs are known to hang out. Police said they went to talk with Yanez, but he tried to run away and was caught. Yanez admitted to police he was carrying a handgun, which was found in his possession. Yanez was questioned and denied any involvement in the shooting, claiming he had bought the handgun off the streets a day before he was arrested, the release said.

Yanez is being held at the Merced County Jail on suspicion of attempted homicide. Skinner said the other shooter has not been arrested.