Juries convict gang members in 2017 Exeter home invasion

Exeter Police Dept. caught the burglars using home security video footage from a neighbor

The Sun-Gazette

VISALIA – Two Visalia gang members have been convicted of shooting an Exeter man in his home during a 2017 burglary. 

According to the Tulare County District Attorney, Vincent Lopez-Prado, 22, and Cesar Raya, 20, entered a home in the 1400 block of Caroline Court in Exeter at around 4 a.m. on Feb. 23, 2017. They had entered the young couple’s home through the garage door which had been left open with the intention to steal firearms and ammunition. When the two masked men entered the couple’s master bedroom, the couple woke up and the men fired two shots hitting the male victim in the arm. The burglars then turned their guns on the female victim, but left before firing. The male homeowner was later taken to a local hospital for his gunshot wound, was released a few days later and made a full recovery. 

Neighbors of the victims provided investigators with doorbell camera footage of a prowler taken a few days earlier on Feb. 21. The Exeter Police Department was able to identify the prowler as Raya. Exeter officers executed a search warrant on Raya’s residence in Visalia where they found the suspect vehicle, also identified by neighborhood surveillance footage, and took Raya into custody. 

Cesar Raya
20 years old

On Feb. 24, 2017 the Visalia Police Department responded to an unrelated call of shot being fired call at an apartment complex. During a search, officers found the Exeter victim’s guns, ammunition, car keys and house keys located in an apartment determined to belong to Lopez-Prado, who was not present. 

In the early morning of Feb. 28, 2017 a house in north Visalia was shot at multiple times. Approximately one hour later, Lopez-Prado was involved in a traffic collision in south Visalia. While investigating the incident as a DUI, the California Highway Patrol located a 9mm handgun with a 30 round high-capacity magazine. Forensic testing revealed gunshot residue on Lopez-Prado’s hand. Twenty-six shell casings found at the scene of the shooting were matched to the 9mm handgun. Upon further forensic investigation, cell phone data placed Lopez-Prado in Exeter at the time of the Feb. 23 crime. 

Raya and Lopez-Prado were tried separately. On Jan. 24, Raya was found guilty of attempted murder, two counts of first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, assault with a semi-automatic firearm, with the special allegations of discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury and that the crimes were committed for the benefit of a street gang. 

Vincent Lopez-Prado
22 years old

On Feb. 7, Lopez-Prado was found guilty of attempted voluntary manslaughter, two counts of first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, assault with a semi-automatic firearm, shooting at an occupied dwelling, possessing cocaine while armed with a firearm, attempted transport for sale of cocaine, and driving under the influence of drugs. The charges were enhanced with special allegations that a firearm was discharged and that the crimes were committed for the benefit of a street gang. 

Sentencing is scheduled for April 1, 2020, in Superior Court where both men face life in prison. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Candice Moore of the Major Crimes Division and was investigated by the Exeter Police Department, the Visalia Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol.

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