Neighbors weigh in on New Year’s Eve homicide

A 51-year-old man was murdered in this residential area on Old Gilroy Street on New Year's Eve. Police are not sure whether the shooting is connected to the marijuana raid in December across the street.

The Gilroy Police Department received multiple calls around 9:33 p.m. Monday regarding a subject who had been shot near Old Gilroy and Alexander streets. Officers arrived at the scene and located the victim lying in the middle of the street, according to a GPD press release.

Police say the victim, a 51-year-old male and Gilroy resident whose name is being withheld – was shot multiple times with an undisclosed caliber and unknown type of firearm. Gilroy Fire Department and Rural Metro Ambulance paramedics arrived at the scene and attended to the victim, who later succumbed to his injuries and passed away while being transported to a Bay Area trauma hospital.

The body was found in front of the small industrial building at 230 Old Gilroy St., where police seized nearly 400 marijuana plants Dec. 19 after thieves broke in. But police could not confirm whether the two events were related.

Frances Arias, 79, who lives across the street from where the body was found, said her son heard shots that sounded like they were coming from the alley that runs behind Forest Street Park. He said the shots sounded like they came from a smaller caliber gun and made a “pop, pop” sound rather than a “bang, bang.”

“I didn’t hear it, but my dog woke me up,” she said. “I came through the kitchen and all I could see were red lights, and I was like, ‘what the hell is going on?’ I saw (the victim) lying on the street but didn’t go outside.”

Arias, who has lived in Gilroy since she was a teenager, said she is concerned about future violence in the area.

“The crime is getting so terrible in this town,” she said. “It’s hitting too close to home. I’ve never been afraid to go outside even though my son tells me I should be. I feel bad because I wasn’t able to help. That is how we were raised – to help people when they are in need.”

Dave Camacho, owner on the nearby Muscle House Gym, said that the gym was closed but he was watching TV at the time in the back and didn’t hear the shots.

Ever since Camacho broke up an armed robbery in 2007 at Franco’s Imports at 157 Old Gilroy St., he said there hasn’t been a lot of criminal activity in the area. But he still plans to install surveillance cameras in front of his business.

Franco’s Imports, which is a block away from the shooting, closed early on New Year’s Eve.

“It’s a good thing that we were already closed because we could have been targeted if they were looking for trouble,” said Nick Franco, the son of the owners.

The store plans to coordinate with police to provide surveillance videos, he said.

According to a preliminary investigation, police say there was a dark colored sedan which was seen rapidly fleeing the scene shortly after the shooting. It is unknown if the vehicle or its occupants were involved with the homicide. Detectives are working to identify the vehicle and its occupants to determine their involvement, if any, with the incident.

The investigation is active and ongoing, according to the press release. Gilroy Police detectives are currently trying to determine the motive and facts associated with this homicide, the press release states.

GPD urges anyone with information regarding this case to contact Detective Michael Bolton at (408) 846-0350. Parties wishing to remain anonymous may call We-Tip at 1-800-782-7463.