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1 Killed, 1 Hurt in Ventura Shooting

September 01, 2003|Holly J. Wolcott | Times Staff Writer

A 28-year-old Ventura man was shot to death and his cousin seriously injured early Sunday during an argument with three people outside a Ventura liquor store, authorities said.

Fidel Morales was pronounced dead at a local hospital minutes after being shot once in the chest and run over about 12:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the Red Barn Liquor store in the 1200 block of Ventura Avenue, police said.

Manuel Morales, 23, who lived with his cousin, was shot twice in the chest, Ventura Police Sgt. Jerry Thurston said. The younger Morales was in critical but stable condition at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, officials said.

The killing is believed to be gang related. It was the city's first homicide since May 2002, when a man was shot while talking to relatives outside a Ventura home. That slaying remains unsolved.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 04, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 86 words Type of Material: Correction
Fatal shooting -- Articles in some editions of the California section on Monday and Tuesday about a shooting in Ventura over the weekend that left one man dead and another seriously injured incorrectly reported accounts of the incident. The stories said the victims had instigated a confrontation with the shooter, but police said it was unclear who started the fight. The stories also implied that the confrontation that occurred early Sunday began in a liquor store, but it actually occurred in the parking lot, police said.

Detectives in Sunday's case were searching for two men -- one of whom was the gunman -- and a woman who fled the scene in a blue or green Toyota Corolla. Thurston said that they are believed to be from Santa Paula.

Fidel Morales, a sandwich shop employee, and his cousin, had just purchased beer at the store when they apparently instigated a confrontation.

The cousins and suspects walked out of the liquor store at the same time. In the parking lot, the Moraleses stopped their car and approached the suspects' vehicle, police said. They exchanged words and one of the suspects opened fire.

As the suspects fled, they drove over Fidel Morales, Thurston said.

Thurston said the suspects likely didn't know each other, but gang rivalry may have been involved.

Authorities said Fidel Morales had lived in Ventura on and off for many years and may recently have returned to the area. His parents live in Port Hueneme, authorities confirmed. He had a lengthy criminal history during the last decade, court records show.

Ventura police had two misdemeanor warrants for his arrest on suspicion of spousal injury in October 1999 and making a threat with the intent to terrorize someone Aug. 10.

He was convicted in 1996 of being a felon in possession of a firearm, records show. And in 1995, he was convicted of being under the influence of illegal drugs. In 1994, he spent a month in jail for felony possession of a dangerous weapon.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call detectives at 339-4472 or report any details anonymously at 385-8255.

The slaying brings total homicides in Ventura County this year to 31, eight more than in all of 2002.

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