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Man Killed Amid Flurry of Suspected Gang Activity : Crime: A man is fatally shot in Ventura, another is wounded in Oxnard. A third is a victim of carjacking.


One man was fatally shot in Ventura, another was wounded in a drive-by shooting in Oxnard and a third was a victim of a carjacking in what police described Sunday as a weekend marked by gang violence.

Among the incidents of violence were:

* Jose Guadalupe Gutierrez, 37, was killed Saturday evening in Ventura's Cabrillo Village when a single small-caliber bullet pierced his heart. Ventura police officials said he was an apparent innocent victim of gang violence.

* Mark Douglas Erickson of Thousand Oaks had his pickup truck carjacked early Sunday morning after being confronted by about 15 suspected gang members at an Oxnard gas station. Police said he was yanked from his car at gunpoint.

* Ruben Romero, 18, of Oxnard, was shot in the chest about 2 a.m. Sunday in the front yard of his home. Police said Romero told them that gang slogans were yelled from a passing car before several shots were fired.

The first of the three incidents came when Gutierrez was chatting with a friend about 9:30 p.m. Saturday outside a small, aging building on Cinco De Mayo Street in Cabrillo Village, where he had earlier finished leading an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting before heading home.

Area residents reported hearing several shots ring out, and police said the bullets were fired from railroad tracks that lie just outside the small community.

Police officials said they believe more than one suspect was involved, but no one has been identified. Ventura Police Sgt. Bob Velez said he suspects the shooting may have been gang-related, although it is not known for sure.

"We've had a lot of gang shootings in this area," Velez said.

Gutierrez was unemployed and received disability for an injury he suffered while working at a packing house, according to his brother-in-law Felipe Sepulveda. He was the father of four children: two daughters, ages 17 and 5, and two sons, 18 and 16, Sepulveda said.

The shooting has left the children without either parent. A few years ago, their mother died of cancer, Sepulveda said.

Sepulveda said gunfire is a weekly commonplace in Cabrillo Village, which was originally built years ago to house Latino farm laborers.

"Other gangs come over here and they just start shooting. They don't care who it is. They just shoot into the buildings," he said.

Police said they believe Gutierrez was a random victim.

"There is no indication this gentleman had any hostilities dealing with anybody that we can focus on," said Ventura Police Sgt. Bob Anderson, who is leading the investigation. "He was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The second gunshot victim, Romero, suffered a single wound to the right side of his chest. He was transported to St. John's Regional Medical Center, where he underwent surgery and remained in serious condition late Sunday, a hospital official said.

The carjacking of Erickson's pickup truck took place about 15 minutes before the shooting of Romero, when Erickson told officers he stopped to fill up at a Mobil gas station at 1st Street and Rose Avenue.

Pulling into the station, Erickson reported seeing about 15 suspected gang members standing on the corner. One member from the group approached him and flashed a handgun, Erickson told police. Still in his vehicle, Erickson attempted to drive away, but several from the group attacked him, yanked him from his vehicle and sped off. Oxnard police said no suspects were immediately arrested and an investigation is continuing.

In another carjacking Sunday morning, Oxnard police said Michael Keefe, 28, of Denver, was leaving Champ's Bar on Victoria Avenue when an unidentified man asked him for a ride home to Oxnard Shores. Keefe consented, and said the man then threatened to shoot him if he did not give him his car.

The California Highway Patrol later found the vehicle unoccupied near Del Norte Boulevard just south of the Ventura Freeway. Keefe did not suffer any injuries.

"This was just one busy night," Oxnard Cmdr. Jamie Skeeters said. "I hope this isn't any indication of an increase in these types of crimes," he said.

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