By Richie Ramos

TURLOCK (CBS13) – A third man has been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Mario Meza in Turlock in early September, authorities said.

According to the Turlock Police Department, detectives located additional evidence linking Patterson resident Eric Rodriguez, 26, to the killing of Meza, of Modesto, in the early hours of September 7.

Rodriguez was located in his vehicle just before 10 a.m. on Thursday at a motel in the 27000 block of Highway 33 in Newman, police said.

Authorities said Rodriguez sped away, initiating a short chase before driving into a nearby orchard and continuing the chase on foot.

Upon contacting Rodriguez in a vehicle, he fled and led officers on a brief pursuit. Rodriguez drove into a nearby orchard, abandoned his vehicle and continued to flee on foot. The chase ended along 5th Street in Crows Landing, where he was taken into custody.

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Rodriguez was booked into the Stanislaus County Jail where he faces charges of “homicide, attempted homicide, shooting at an occupied vehicle, evading a peace officer, being a felon in possession of a firearm and participating in a criminal street gang,” police said.

After being shot, Meza was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Ceres resident Miguel Saldate, 20, was detained at the scene of the shooting and arrested on charges of attempted homicide and other felonies.

Police later identified a second suspect, 19-year-old Juan Jose Cruz Jr. of Modesto. On Sept. 9, Cruz was questioned at the Turlock Police Department and arrested on charges of homicide, attempted homicide, aggravated assault, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was later booked into the Stanislaus County Jail.

Turlock police said the investigation remains open and detectives are working to identify all remaining individuals involved in Meza’s killing.

Anyone with information relevant to the case is asked to contact the Turlock Police Department.


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