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Homicide investigation leads Fresno police to Avila Beach

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Posted at 5:55 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 00:35:23-05

We're learning new details about the heavy law enforcement presence in Avila Beach on Wednesday night.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office says the call came in as a domestic disturbance in the parking lot of San Luis Bay Inn. It ended, however, with the arrests of two men from Fresno whom police say are linked to a homicide investigation.

Nestled in Avila Beach, the typically quiet hotel was taped off Wednesday evening as police searched for 21-year-old Davon Thomas and 23-year-old Emanuel Johnson, both of Fresno.

Just before the tape went up, the Sheriff's Office says they got a call of a domestic disturbance at the San Luis Bay Inn where they ran the plates of a blue-colored Nissan Altima.

Authorities say it was part of a "Be on the Lookout" and linked to a homicide last week roughly 150 miles away in the City of Fresno. Fresno police tell KSBY a 23-year-old man was shot several times and eventually died.

Lt. Larry Bowlan says the deadly shooting stemmed from an ongoing dispute and while it's believed to be gang affiliated, it's likely not gang motivated.

"That subject, along with a couple of other individuals, had arrived at the location to basically confront some subjects that were in the area," Lt. Bowlan explained. "One of their family members resided in the neighborhood."

Considered armed and dangerous, one of the suspects linked to that fatal shooting was believed to be inside San Luis Bay Inn. The Sheriff's Office says three children and two women were also in the room. The location of the second suspect was unknown so deputies evacuated hotel rooms. Both men were eventually detained and arrested.

Fresno police say Johnson was transported back to Fresno and was arrested for a probation violation. Thomas was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail but the Fresno Police Department says due to additional information, his homicide warrant was recalled and he's no longer in custody.

"We still think we're looking at the right individuals but we have to get some things clarified first before we push that through our District Attorney's Office for anyone being charged with that murder," Lt. Bowlan said.

Police say the Nissan was towed back to Fresno to process DNA, fingerprints, and search the vehicle. Police add that they expect an arrest within the next week or two in the homicide case.

We reached out to the San Luis Bay Inn but they declined our request for comment.