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First murder victim of 2013 identified

Modified: Monday, Jan 21st, 2013

A bullet passed through a computer monitor and into the wall at a local business during Friday night's shooting. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian).

WATSONVILLE — The Watsonville man who was shot to death outside a Watsonville home on Second Street Friday night was identified Monday as Marco Topete, who celebrated his 18th birthday on Jan. 14.

The shooting was the first homicide in Santa Cruz County this year.

Police said Topete had prior gang association, and was the victim of a shooting in October.

According to witnesses, Topete was riding his bicycle eastbound on Second Street just before 9 p.m. Friday when an unknown suspect drove up and fired approximately 11 shots.

Topete was struck an unknown number of times and died a short time later on the sidewalk.

Police said he was with a friend, a 16-year-old boy. Witnesses said the boy ran away eastbound on Second Street after the shooting occurred.

Luz Jauregui, who has lived in the house where Topete died for about 18 years, said she saw him lying on the sidewalk, still tangled in his bicycle.

She said she tried to speak to Topete, but he was unable to communicate.

“His lips were moving, but no words were coming out,” Jauregui said.

She said she called 911, then went out to comfort Topete, despite warnings from her family to stay inside.

“I have kids and I have brothers,” she said. “If something like this happened, I would want someone to help them. We couldn’t just leave him.”

The bullets struck Jauregui’s father’s truck twice, flattening a tire and leaving a hole in the tailgate.

A shot also struck a nearby business, barely missing a worker who had just returned from a cigarette break. The bullet went through a computer monitor and lodged in a wall.

A worker from a separate business across the street said the large industrial building was also hit approximately five times, one shot going through a window and into a room where someone was working.

An emergency dispatcher said to be on the lookout for a two-toned, white-over-gray, four-door, late 90s model sedan, possibly a Lexus, that may have been involved in the shooting or may have witnessed the incident.

A small, makeshift shrine of flowers, candles and a cross was set up on the sidewalk Saturday on Second Street where the teen died, near a business on the corner of Second and Walker streets.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Watsonville Police Department Investigations Bureau at 768-3352 or the anonymous tip line at 768-3544.

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