H-SANTA MARIA

Nov 21, 2011 10:10 PM by Ariel Wesler

Police: Teen shooting victim was a local gang member

Police have released the name of the teenager killed in a shooting in Santa Maria over the weekend.

Santa Maria police say 15-year-old Juan Montar was a local gang member. He was sitting in a parked car with a 26 year old man in the 1000 block of West Stowell Road when somebody fired multiple shots into the car. The crime happened just after midnight Sunday morning and investigators are still searching for the shooter.

They haven't ruled out a connection between this gang-related shooting and the one in Oceano but so far, detectives say they haven't found a definite link showing it was a retaliation.

"We know that our victim was in fact a local gang member," said Sgt. Terry Flaa with the Santa Maria Police Department.

But to his family 15-year-old Juan Montar was just a kid who had his life suddenly cut short.

"Right now, it's hard for the family. It's hard for everyone that we lost a little young man," said Montar's cousin Julio Chavez.

He was among those gathering at the family's home to mourn his cousin's death.

"I used to see him walking to school and I would tell him, stay out of trouble. Do it for your family. Do it for your mom," Chavez said. "I saw a better life for him, you know."

The shooting happened in front of Joe Campa's house early Sunday morning.

"They were pretty loud gunshots and they were very rapid," Campa said.

The shattered pieces of glass were on the ground, where the vehicle was parked. Campa said he's never had any trouble with his neighbors in the past.

"They're farm workers and they seem to be hard working people. They get up early in the morning and they come back late at night," he said.

Meantime, detectives returned to the house to speak with family and friends, hoping new clues will lead them to the shooter.

For safety reasons, officers have not released the identity of the 26-year-old passenger in the vehicle, who was also shot, but he is expected to be ok.

A candlelight vigil took place at the crime scene Monday night for 17-year-old Gabe Salgado who was killed in that drive-by shooting in Oceano.

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