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Stockton Church Urges Witnesses To Come Forward After Minister Killed By Stray Bullet

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Nick Janes Nick Janes
Nick Janes joined KOVR/KMAX in December 2008 as a reporter. Nick...
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STOCKTON (CBS13) —A man struck and killed by a stray bullet was a father, a husband and a minister at a Stockton church.

Jesus Mendoza was a young father, only 23 years old, who devoted his life to his church and family. He spent time working with Stockton youth trying to turn the tide against the very senseless violence that claimed his life.

Mendoza leaves a huge void, both at the Stockton church where he met his wife at age 18 and later became a minister, and at home as a loving father to his 20-month-old daughter.

“She can barely speak. She’s less than two years old, but she’s already asking for Papa,” said Pastor Ramon Leal.

He was simply driving home to his family after work on Tuesday when he was struck and killed by a stray bullet.

Stockton Police released new surveillance video showing a group of suspects casually walking over to some trees. Minutes later, something catches their eye, and they start shooting in broad daylight.

Police don’t know what provoked the shooting, but they’re sure that Mendoza was not the intended target.

The minister’s car isn’t visible in the video, but he was heading east on Main Street. One of the stray bullets went through his windshield and ended his life.

“The citizens of Stockton are tired of this type of violent crime,” Officer Joe Silva said.

Friends of Mendoza want justice and are hoping someone comes forward.

“If we are tired, let’s say something,” Leal said. “I know somebody saw something.”

A tearful congregation is left trying to support Mendoza’s family. He was the sole bread-winner and dreamed of becoming a pastor.

“Jesus was a family man, a servant of God, and he didn’t deserve something like this,” Leal said.

In the past, Stockton police say the community has stepped up with information in cases like these. They’re counting on someone to come forward again to bring justice for Jesus’ family.

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