Salinas gang slaying is third in two days

Fatal shooting Friday follows double homicide Thursday

BY MARIA INES ZAMUDIO • The Californian •February 28, 2009

A young Salinas man became the third homicide victim in a less than a 24-hour span on Friday during a new surge in gang violence. The slaying followed a double homicide on Thursday night in which two students from Everett Alvarez High School were shot. Both victims later died of their wounds.

The three killings bring the city’s homicide total to nine since Jan. 5.

This latest street violence is the second time this year in which three people have been killed in less than a day.

The violence began just after 8 p.m. Thursday when Carlos Mejia, 17, and Francisco Alfaro, 16, were hanging out in the parking lot of the 900 block of Acosta Plaza. Two males approached the high school students and shot each one several times, then fled on foot, police said. Mejia was flown to a Bay Area hospital with wounds to his torso and lower body and was later pronounced dead. Alfaro was taken to Natividad Medical

Center, where he later died of his injuries, police said.

About 17 hours later, and just a mile from Thursday’s double homicide, a Salinas man in his 20s was shot to death.

A family member interviewed Friday after the shooting indentified the victim as NoÎl Alvarez of Salinas, a Dallas Cowboys fan and a caring relative.

The relative, whose name is being withheld, said Alvarez was visiting friends in front of their apartment in the 900 block of Del Monte Avenue just before 1 p.m. Friday when an assailant approached on foot through a common driveway and fired several rounds.

Alvarez was struck several times in the legs and lower torso. He was taken to Natividad Medical Center, where he died soon after, police said.

The three homicides are gang related, police said.

Friday was a sad day at Everett Alvarez High. Administrators prepared “grieving rooms” where students could meet with counselors.

“It’s tragic when children are not able to achieve their full potential,” said Darin Hershberger, the school’s principal.

Hershberger said Alfaro was new to the school, arriving in January.

Mejia was a senior who was active in the Ag Academy, Hershberger said.

“He was well-liked, funny and was on track to graduating this year,” he said. “He was a happy kid and a musician [he played with a band outside of school].”

Alvarez, meanwhile, was described by family members as a caring brother and a hard worker. He was the oldest brother in the family and often tried to teach his three younger sisters about life.

“He was strong and positive. He always told me that he was going to be there for me,” said a relative, sobbing Friday outside Natividad Medical Center.

“I want to go with him. I wish this was all a bad dream.”

No arrests have been made in either case, police said. But Sgt. Chris Lane said detectives are following several leads in Thursday’s double slaying.

“We want people to come forward and not be afraid,” Lane said. “We have a number of different tip lines where people can remain anonymous. We just need the information.”

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