Crime

Homicide suspect captured in Merced County may have been trying to flee, police say

A Los Banos man was likely trying to flee Merced County when authorities arrested him in connection with the weekend murder of a 37-year-old man, according to Los Banos police.

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Juan Luis Gonzalez Torres, pictured in this jail photo, was likely trying to flee Merced County when authorities arrested him Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Santa Nella in connection with the weekend murder of Jose Raul Nolasco, according to Los Banos police. Courtesy Merced County Sheriff's Office
killing 37-year-old Los Banos man Jose Raul Nolasco early Sunday morning

Nolasco was rushed to Memorial Hospital Los Banos, and later to a Modesto area hospital where he later died.

Authorities believe Gonzalez Torres and Nolasco were having some type of argument outside the El Bohemia Rincon bar in downtown Los Banos before Gonzalez Torres shot Nolasco, who was found with a single gunshot wound at about 12:42 a.m. behind the Bank of America building on Sunday.

Gonzalez Torres’ vehicle was in a parking lot of a hotel in Santa Nella just before 8 a.m. Wednesday, Hedden said. It was the Motel 6 at 12733 Highway 33.

Police had already identified the vehicle, Hedden said. So when Merced County Sheriff’s Deputy Diane Rentfrow encountered it in the parking lot and ran the car’s plates, it was flagged.

She saw Gonzalez Torres and members of his family packing up belongings into the car before leaving toward Interstate 5, Hedden said.

Rentfrow stopped the vehicle on the southbound I-5 onramp from Highway 33.

Investigators believe Gonzalez Torres may have been trying to flee, Hedden said.

Gonzalez Torres was arrested on suspicion of murder and booked into the Los Banos Police Department Jail, Hedden said.

Vikaas Shanker is an award-winning reporter covering education, crime and courts for the Merced Sun-Star and Los Banos Enterprise. After growing up in Naperville, Illinois and graduating from the University of Kansas, he reported in several Chicago suburbs before moving to Merced County in 2016.
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