By Heather Janssen

MODESTO (CBS13) – A community is in mourning after a deadly shooting in Modesto took the lives of two people and left another to fight for his life in the hospital.

A memorial of candles and flowers grew throughout Saturday afternoon and evening at the Modesto home where the three people were shot. Neighbors believe the victims were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Family members have identified one of the victims as Brandon Wheeler. His brother, Jimmy Wheeler, was teary-eyed as he remembered his sibling as a great father figure.

“He was a great guy. He’s got three kids,” Wheeler said. “He turned his life around. He was just a big teddy bear.”

Wheeler said the surviving victim is his cousin, who is recovering in the hospital and is in critical condition.

“He’s expected to survive,” he said. “I pray to God he does and he’s seen something.”

At the growing memorial, Debra and Keith Huggins placed candles in memory of the victims. The couple is very close to the family and celebrated Brandon’s birthday with him only days before the shooting.

“You would never dream of this happening to anybody like that,” Huggins said.

A few homes down from the memorial, at a different house, a window was riddled with bullet holes. Just across the street, Victoria Webster heard several gunshots and believes Brandon and the other two victims were simply caught in the crossfire.

“They had nothing to do with it,” Webster said. “They weren’t the target. They were just in the wrong place.”

Though, Modesto police have not said that for certain – as they are in the early stages of the investigation. But a day after the shooting, Wheeler said the family still has more questions than answers.

“We don’t know what the hell happened,” Wheeler said. “Were they innocent bystanders? That’s what we’re assuming.”

Wheeler is begging anyone who knows something to come forward.

“Whether it’s here for by God, justice will be served,” he said.

At this point, it’s not clear if there are any suspects, motives or leads. But Modesto police say they are looking for witnesses. Anyone who saw something or knows something is asked to call Crimestoppers at 209-521-4636.

Heather Janssen

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