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Ventura County

Woman Found Slain in Vehicle

Shooting: The discovery of the victim's body in Ventura sparks an unsuccessful search for a man who witnesses say ran from the scene.

July 27, 2002|JESSICA BLANCHARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 22-year-old Port Hueneme woman was shot and killed in Ventura on Friday, sparking a daylong search for the gunman that stretched from the Buenaventura Golf Course across the dry bed of the Santa Clara River and into Oxnard.

Police initially responded to a call of a car accident in the 3000 block of Bunsen Avenue, an area of industrial parks and empty fields.

When they arrived just after 8:30 a.m., they found Irene Imelda Mata shot in the head and slumped in the front passenger seat of a white Camaro, said Ventura Police Lt. Doug Auldridge. The Camaro had apparently rear-ended a blue van, which witnesses said had been abandoned on the street several weeks ago.

The Camaro was registered to a Ventura woman.

Witnesses told police that a man in his 20s, about 6 feet tall and wearing a white shirt and brown pants, ran from the scene, prompting the search.

Assisted by a bloodhound, an army of uniformed police officers, investigators and SWAT team members fanned out in the area during an eight-hour search for the gunman.

A Ventura County sheriff's helicopter also assisted.

Investigators combing the area near the crime scene found a gun that they believe was used in the shooting, the 14th homicide in Ventura County this year.

Police tracked the suspect south, through the Buenaventura Golf Course, across the riverbed and through the River Ridge Golf Course.

At one point, officers found two window screens at a nearby hotel that appeared to have been pried open in an attempt to enter.

Later, officers searched door-to-door through nearby neighborhoods.

No arrests were made. Police declined to name a suspect and said they were still trying to sort out details about the slaying.

An autopsy is scheduled for 9 a.m. today, authorities said.

*

Times staff writer Amanda Covarrubias contributed to this story.

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