Watsonville police search for evidence at 200 Prospect Street Wednesday where a 37-year-old man died from gunshot wounds and a 22-year-old woman was shot early Wednesday.
(Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)
UPDATE THURSDAY, 11 a.m:
Watsonville police identified the male victim as 37-year-old Dominic Mower of Watsonville.
No motive has been found yet, and the female victim is unable to communicate due to her medical state.
Mower was one of the suspects involved in the Feb. 28 standoff in the same building.
WATSONVILLE — A 37-year-old man died from multiple gunshot wounds early Wednesday on Prospect Street, Watsonville Police Sgt. Saul Gonzalez said, and a 22-year-old woman was found nearby with a single gunshot wound.
Watsonville Police were dispatched to the 100 block of Prospect Street at 3:05 a.m. to a report of a woman who had been shot. Officers arrived and found the woman suffering from a life threatening gunshot wound who had collapsed on a lawn of a home. She reportedly had run to the home after being shot and knocked on the door begging for someone to call 9-1-1. She was transported to a bay area hospital and was unable to provide details of the shooting, Gonzalez said.
No names have been released in the incident and no arrests have been made.
Officers followed a blood trail from her into an unsecured business/residence, formerly Freedom Sheet Metal, 200 Prospect St. As officers searched the building they found the 37-year-old male who had been shot numerous times.
Watsonville Fire and American Medical Response paramedics responded to the scene and the male was pronounced dead at the scene.
Watsonville police detectives took over the investigation. They used yellow crime scene tape to cordon off the intersection of Prospect and Madison streets as well as the front yard area of a home on the 100 block of Prospect.
Gonzalez said police have ruled out a murder suicide. He said it appears the victim was targeted.
One neighbor who said she moved next door to the property about a year ago said she and her husband have noticed people coming and going from the property all night.
The neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was awoken approximately 4 a.m. when her hound dog started to bark. She did not, however, hear any shots.
A neighborhood watch group formed about two years ago had planned a meeting for Wednesday night, but the neighbor said she decided not to go after the shootings.
“I don’t want to get singled out,” she said.
Still, she said that the neighborhood is a nice place to live.
“We watch out for each other,” she said.
Fear of retaliation caused many neighbors to similarly decline to give their names.
Many said, however, that the building is known as a place where several young men in their 20s live, and where many people come and go at all hours of the night.
Other neighbors complained about the decrepit vehicles that often surround the building.
Indeed, a glimpse through the fence reveals several cars packed into the yard, some run down.
A man who was preparing for his 7-year-old daughter’s birthday party said he heard his dogs barking approximately 3 a.m.
The building last housed Freedom Sheet Metal, but has been vacant for some time, according to neighbors.
It is unclear, however, what the property was being used for at the time of the incident.
Surveillance cameras can be seen mounted on various places on the building, some jury-rigged on planks of wood held in place with wire and tape. One camera rotated automatically in continuous 360-degree circles from a vent pipe at top of the building.
Wednesday’s event was not the first time police have visited the property. On Feb. 28 two men were arrested after a four-hour standoff with dozens of police officers and a S.W.A.T. team.
Dominic Mower, who police said is about 30, of Santa Cruz, and Andrew Casillas, 27, of Watsonville were taken into custody without a struggle following the standoff.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies were investigating a residential burglary a day before the standoff in which a suspect stole a gun. Once police learned that the suspect might have been Mower they ramped up their response to the standoff.
By 10 a.m. Wednesday police were still on the scene picking through the two-story building at 200 Prospect for clues. Some neighbors, who chose not to give their names, said they were wary of the surveillance cameras that they believed were set up by people using the building for unknown reasons.
Neighbor Ken Baldwin said he was awoken by flashing emergency lights early Wednesday.
“The cops were here asking about a shooting but I slept right through it,” he said. “I didn’t hear a thing. This is a busy little neighborhood with a lot of stuff going on. A lot of stuff goes on at night in that building but I have no idea what it is.”
Gonzalez said, “The investigation is on-going and at this time there are no suspects in custody and very few investigative leads. The motive is also still under investigation.”
The incident marks Watsonville's first homicide of the year, Gonzalez said.
In April Brandon Gil, 21, died from stab wounds during a fight outside a downtown restaurant but police eventually ruled self-defense and homicide was ruled out.
Roy Robert Hughes, 50 died June 6 at a Bay Area trauma center where he had been in an induced coma due to extensive burns he suffered in the April 30 Stag Hotel fire. Pending further investigation, his death could be ruled a homicide if an arrest is made in the two-alarm fire that investigators are treating as arson.
Anyone with further information regarding the Prospect Street shootings is encouraged to contact the WPD Investigation Division at 768-3350 or the Crime Tip Line at 768-3544.
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