Three men arrested this week in a Los Banos homicide investigation were identified Thursday by police as family members.
Los Banos police said brothers Charles F. Lujan, 59, and Steven A. Lujan, 55, and their nephew Ronnie Lujan, 34, are suspects in the slaying on Tuesday of 35-year-old Rene Cruz Sandoval.
Cruz Sandoval suffered at least one gunshot wound around 3:45 p.m. Tuesday and was found bleeding heavily outside an alleyway home in the 300 block of H Street. He died at the scene.
Investigators on Thursday said they found a single shell casing at the scene, but declined to comment further on the murder weapon, including to say whether it has been located.
“I can say we do not believe this was gang-related,” Commander Ray Reyna said in a telephone interview. “We believe we do know the motive, but it’s too soon to comment on that.”
Police said video surveillance in the H Street neighborhood captured images of a Chrysler sedan driving through the alley and stopping at the victim’s home around the time of the homicide.
“A witness observed a group of Hispanic males leaving the residence in the Chrysler sedan, one of which was observed carrying a firearm,” Los Banos police said in a news release.
Investigators identified the vehicle and, on Wednesday, tracked it to a home in the 1300 block of Frankfort Court in Merced.
A Los Banos detective spotted Ronnie Lujan driving the Chrysler away from the Merced home and, with assistance from the Merced Police Department, stopped the vehicle and arrested the driver.
Charles and Steven Lujan were arrested walking away from the Frankfort Court home.
Police said they found “additional evidence and information” in the home linking the three men to Cruz Sandoval’s death, but officers declined to elaborate. The search was conducted by Los Banos police and the Merced Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team.
Reyna said detectives had not ruled out the possibility of locating a fourth suspect in the case.
“For that reason, we want to be limited in what we release,” Reyna said.
The police commander declined to comment on the type of firearm used in the slaying, or say which man is suspected of pulling the trigger.
According to Merced County Jail records, all three men remained in custody Thursday on more than $1 million bail each on suspicion of murder.