Two men were killed and five others wounded early Sunday by gunmen who calmly walked into a backyard birthday party in Oxnard and started shooting, sending frantic guests diving for cover behind garbage cans.
The shooting began about 12:45 a.m., as two or possibly three gunmen stepped through a side gate into the backyard of the house in the 2100 block of Walden Street and fired several rounds at the crowd of people. Three stray bullets pierced the walls of a neighbor's living room and garage.
"People were screaming hysterically and crying," said the neighbor, who was still visibly shaken from the incident hours later.
More than two dozen officers responded to the scene. Police Cmdr. Brian MacDonald said the incident appeared to be unprovoked but gang-related.
MacDonald said the shooters, who fled the scene on foot and remained at large Sunday night, were not confronted by any of the guests before they opened fire. He also said the killings do not appear to be linked to recent incidents of gang violence in the city or the county.
Augustine David Medina, 20, of Oxnard, died at the scene. His friend, 19-year-old Gilberto Gutierrez Hernandez of Somis, was rushed to St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday.
Medina and Hernandez each died from a gunshot wound to the chest, said Mitch Breese, a senior deputy coroner's investigator. Their deaths mark the 15th and 16th homicides in the city so far this year, compared to a dozen for all of last year.
Four other men and a woman, who were among the roughly 30 party guests at the house, suffered gunshot wounds. They were taken to hospitals with minor to moderate injuries, MacDonald said.