Oceano drive-by shooting victim dies

Gabriel Salgado, 17, died Friday of a gunshot to the head; other youth, 14, was shot in the leg

clambert@thetribunenews.comNovember 18, 2011 

Ten prayer candles flickered in a cold wind on an Oceano sidewalk Friday afternoon, near the spot where a 17-year-old was gunned down in a drive-by shooting less than 24 hours earlier.

Oceano resident Gabriel Salgado was shot in the head about 6:40 p.m. Thursday and died Friday morning at Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria, according to county sheriff’s officials.

His death marks the first homicide in an unincorporated area of San Luis Obispo County this year.

A 14-year-old Oceano resident, who authorities did not identify, was shot in the leg in the same incident and had surgery Friday morning at Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, said Sheriff’s Office spokes-man Rob Bryn. As of Friday night, no suspects had been identified, authorities said.

The drive-by shooting — a rare occurrence in Oceano — has shaken the tight-knit community, with local leaders now focused on reaching out to families and ensuring local teens’ safety.

“It’s a close community with good people, and when this happens, it hurts everybody,” said Moyses Muguira, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South San Luis Obispo County. Both boys had hung out at the teen center at one time or another.

“We’re really shaken up that a young boy lost his life,” he added. “Staff who live and work here — they’re heartbroken.”

Additional counselors were made available to students at Lucia Mar schools Friday where the boys were enrolled, district officials said during a news conference. The 14-year-old attends Arroyo Grande High School.

Salgado was a senior at Lopez High, a school of about 150 students on the Nipomo Mesa. Lopez High Principal Christine Granados described Salgado as a well-liked student who was on track to graduate this year.

The two boys were walking or standing in the 1700 block of 21st Street when someone fired multiple shots from the passenger side of a vehicle heading south, sheriff’s officials said.

Salgado fell to the ground. The 14-year-old ran into a nearby home; deputies saw him in the doorway as they arrived after receiving several reports of the shooting.

About 30 people — mostly male teens and young adults — were also at the scene when deputies arrived. About the same number of Sheriff’s Office personnel canvassed neighborhoods in the South County into the early morning hours Friday in an attempt to find those responsible for the shooting.

Authorities at the scene Thursday night summoned the county’s gang task force. Undersheriff Martin Basti said authorities are working to determine whether the suspects are associated with a gang. It’s unknown whether either of the victims had any gang ties.

Reports of drive-by shootings are rare, but not unheard of, in San Luis Obispo County. Reports of nearly 20 such shootings appeared in The Tribune in the past 15 years and happened throughout the county, from Paso Robles to Nipomo. Several were gang-related. None was in Oceano.

The most recent incident was in June in Paso Robles, when a man told police he was shot while standing along Santa Ynez Avenue, off Creston Road. He suffered a gunshot wound to his left thigh. Two men believed to have ties to a King City gang were later arrested.

Assistant City Editor Jonah Owen Lamb and staff writer Stacy Daniel contributed to this report. Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

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