By Marissa Perlman

MODESTO (CBS13) – A homeless mother and son were mowed down in an alley overnight in Modesto, killing the 61-year-old woman

According to the Modesto Police Department, it started after the driver and the victims started arguing – but it’s not clear over what.

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Cruz Diaz, 39, from Merced is now charged with homicide.

Just after midnight, Cruz started fighting with the man, 30, and his mother behind the A&M Markey on Maze Boulevard. Police say Diaz got into his car and sped down the alley, intentionally hitting the two.

“It’s not the right place to stay, but sometimes that’s all they can do,” Oscar Cano said of the mother and son.

Can has lived in the area for 17 years and he says the victims had been living in the alley for months. He says they got kicked out of a home next door, which is now under construction.

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“Especially in that alley, there are a lot of homeless,” he said.

Meggan Clifford with the Modesto Downtown Streets – a homeless advocacy group – says the pandemic shut down resources for the city’s homeless population. She’s hoping now that service providers will be opening back up.

“So situations like this can be prevented because this is just awful,” Clifford said.

Both victims were transported to the hospital, but the mother died from her injuries.

The son is expected to survive.

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A cadet with the police department eventually found the suspect’s car later on in the morning, just a few blocks from the alley, and Diaz was arrested.

Marissa Perlman