Two shootings, one fatal, rock Orange Cove


Man, 18, dies and 17-year-old male critically wounded in March 3 incident, 19-year-old woman expected to recover from Feb. 25 shooting

Photo by Danny Jimenez / Contributor

ORANGE COVE – Families are in shock and mourning after a pair of suspected gang-related shootings—one fatal—occurred within a week’s time and mere blocks from one another in the small eastern Fresno County community.
The second shooting on March 3 resulted in the death of 18-year-old Ruben Velazquez and wounding of a 17-year-old boy near Sheridan Elementary School. Six days earlier, on Feb. 25, a 19-year-old woman was critically wounded when she was shot in her car by someone in a passing vehicle. After undergoing surgery, she was recovering from her wounds.
Fresno County Sheriff’s homicide detectives and investigators believe both shootings are gang-related, and involved gunfire from passing vehicles. Grieving family members and friends gathered in the afternoon March 4 at the site of the latter shooting at 10th and J Streets.
According to the sheriff’s office, Orange Cove police officers were dispatched sometime around 7:30 p.m. on March 3 to a call of shots fired near that intersection. Upon arrivals, officers found Velazquez and the unidentified male teen inside their car parked on J Street suffering from gunshot wounds. Both were transported by EMS personnel to Community Regional Medical Center.
Velazquez died from his gunshot wounds while the teen was listed in critical condition on March 4.
Gunfire from the shooting was heard about a half mile to the south at the nearby Orange Cove vs. Reedley softball game at the high school. As in the Feb. 25 shooting, homicide investigators with FCSO took on the case at the request of the Orange Cove Police Department.
In the Feb. 25 incident, Orange Cove police responded to the 1000 block of 8th Street, just south of J Street and a block east of Sheridan School, shortly after 8 p.m. Upon arrival, officers discovered the young woman inside a vehicle. She reportedly was talking to her boyfriend, who was standing outside the vehicle, when she was shot.
Sheriff’s investigators are working to identify a suspect and vehicle involved in the shooting. In both shootings, homicide detectives and members of the FCSO Crime Scene Unit were investigating at the scene.
The March 3 incident is the second fatal shooting involving teens in Orange Cove in the last eight months. On July 27, 2022, 14-year-old Araceli Gutierrez of Orange Cove was shot and killed and her 19-year-old boyfriend from Del Rey was wounded at an apartment complex in the 500 block of 8th Street. A 16-year-old boy from Orange Cove was later arrested for the shootings.
Anyone with additional information on the March 3 shooting is asked to contact Detective Oscar Iniguez at (559) 600-8201 (Case #23-2524), and for the Feb 25 shooting are asked to contact Detective Jose Diaz at (559) 600-8204 (Case #23-2281). More information on either case also can be made by phone to Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-7867 or online at Tipsters will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.