Third suspect arrested in drive-by shooting

Police continue search for final suspect, Steven Michael Lopez, 24, in Feb. 22 shooting


VISALIA – Police have arrested a third suspect in connection with a Feb. 3 drive-by shooting at Circle K Market.

At 6:35 p.m. on March 2, members of the Visalia Police Department’s gang unit, or Special Enforcement Unit (SEU), arrested 27-year-old Francisco Nava at his home in Visalia. He was booked at the Tulare County Jail. Nava was one of two suspects wanted in connection with a Feb. 22 drive-by shooting. Police are still searching for the last remaining suspect in the case, 24-year-old Steven Michael Lopez. If anyone is aware of his location they are encouraged to contact Detective Kevin Grant at 559-713-4092. Anonymous tips can be provided through Valley Crimestoppers at 559-498-STOP.

According to Visalia PD, four men verbally harrassed and then physically attacked a victim while yelling gang slurs outside of the Circle K Market, at the corner of Dinuba Boulevard and Vine Street. When the victims attempted to flee in a vehicle, the four men followed them and fired a gun at the victim’s vehicle. The two occupants of the victim vehicle were not struck by gunfire and not seriously injured. Detectives, along with officers from Visalia PD’s Special Enforcement Unit (SEU) specializing in gang crimes, were able to identify the suspects with the assistance of video surveillance.

On Feb. 6, SEU officers arrested 24-year-old Ruben Yabet Perez during a traffic stop near Lovers Lane and Noble Avenue. During a search warrant at his residence in the 300 block of N. Arroyo, evidence was located that linked Perez to the shooting. On Feb. 22, detectives with the Visalia Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit were notified that another one of the suspects, 21-year-old Robert Ramos, Jr., had been arrested by Hanford Police.

Friday, March 2
At 11:06 p.m. in the area of Caldwell and Oak View, officers responded to a call of a subject firing a gun from a vehicle. During a traffic stop in the 800 block of W. Kimball, one subject, later identified as 26-year-old Javier Suarez, fled from the vehicle. He surrendered to a K-9 one block away. The driver of vehicle, 26-year-old Henry Valenciana, was taken into custody without further incident. During a search of the area officers located a loaded shotgun which was later found to be stolen. Both suspects are active northern gang members. Valenciana and Suarez were booked into the Tulare County Pre-trail Facility for numerous firearms charges, and a criminal street gang enhancement.

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