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First Homicide In 13 Years Claims Sonora Shop Owner, Police Volunteer

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Nick Janes Nick Janes
Nick Janes joined KOVR/KMAX in December 2008 as a reporter. Nick...
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SONORA (CBS13) — A popular shop owner and police volunteer was gunned down in Sonora’s first murder in more than a decade.

Ricky Roberts’ family says they don’t know who would have wanted to shoot him early Sunday morning in Sonora.

There’s an outpouring of support from people who either knew Roberts as the guy who owned the auto body shop, or the volunteer with the police department.

Police are saying this wasn’t a random attack and that Roberts was targeted.

Mike Roberts, the victim’s brother, is also convinced whoever killed Ricky knew he would be alone at the auto shop on Sunday morning.

“They have no idea what they’re taking from people when they come and do something like this,” he said.

Ricky stopped at the shop before going to pick up his son for church. Mike says someone walked in and shot his brother in the heart as he was washing his hands.

“For somebody to come in here like that and violate him and the family and take his life without even giving him a chance to defend himself is very cowardly,” he said.

The 49-year-old Sonora native was a police department cadet as a teen, and he would serve as a mentor in the same program later in life. Ricky would spend countless hours volunteering for the Sonora Police Department.

“We needed extra help, and you’d call him and he’d be here,” said Chief Mark Stinson. “It’s really tough, and the staff is taking it pretty hard.”

The first murder in 13 years has shaken the small mountain town. Police won’t say much, but confirm they believe it wasn’t a random shooting.

In the garage where Ricky worked on cars he used in demolition derbies, trophies line the walls. It was his passion. He even got married on top of a derby car down at the fairgrounds.

His brother plans to build one last car for one last derby in Ricky’s honor.

The police chief told us that like clockwork, Ricky would show up every Thursday and volunteer 10 to 12 hours of his time. He says it will feel very empty at the station this week now that Roberts is gone.

The last murder in Sonora was nearly 13 years ago to the day. A man was fatally stabbed on Feb. 28, 2001.

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