A screen capture from surveillance footage of a light-colored or white full-size Chevy pickup thought to be connected with the drive-by shooting in El Centro that left a 37-year-old man dead was released by El Centro police on Tuesday, Nov. 10. The shooting occurred Friday, Nov. 6. Investigators want to speak with anyone who might have seen the vehicle but are cautioning people not to approach those in the vehicle, as they might be armed and dangerous. | IMAGE COURTESY OF EL CENTRO POLICE DEPARTMENT
(UPDATED Nov. 10 2:45 p.m.: Victim identified by El Centro Police Department.)
El Centro police have released a photo of a vehicle thought to be involved in the drive-by shooting death of a 37-year-old Imperial man gunned down in a front yard in the 1100 block of Oak Street last week.
“We would like to speak with the driver of this vehicle in connection with the shooting. If anyone knows who this vehicle belongs to, they should contact our detectives. Do not approach,” said Assistant El Centro Police Chief Robert Sawyer after he released the photo Tuesday morning, Nov. 10.
Sawyer indicated that the owners or occupants of the vehicle could potentially be armed and dangerous. The image was taken from surveillance video somewhere in the vicinity of the Friday, Nov. 6, shooting, he said.
The 37-year-old victim was identified as Raymond Raul Velarde of Imperial by police on Tuesday afternoon. Velarde died en route to a trauma center after being shot in the head during the drive-by shooting, which occurred around shortly before noon Friday in the northeastern part of the city directly north of Swarthout Park.
The victim was alive at the scene and was transferred by an air ambulance helicopter to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, according to a combination of information from an El Centro Police Department press release that was sent out shortly after 3:30 p.m. Friday and radio log information released Saturday, Nov. 7.
Police officers responded to reports of a shooting at Oak Road and Villa Avenue about 11:30 a.m., logs stated. The victim was found in his front yard in the 1100 block of Oak Street with a single gunshot wound to the head, according to logs.
Paramedics from El Centro Fire Department and AMR ambulance service provided medical treatment at the scene. It was not entirely clear from the logs, but it appears a REACH helicopter landed in Swarthout Field about three blocks south of the crime scene to transport the victim directly to Desert Regional.
It also wasn’t immediately clear if the victim made it to Desert Regional before he died, but according to log reports, coroner’s officials and police were called to Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley a few hours later to await the arrival of the victim’s body.
Brawley’s Frye Chapel and Mortuary has been where decedents are taken to be examined by coroner investigators.
ECPD’s Investigations Bureau is still working the case, and witnesses described a light-colored, possibly gold or tan, Chevy or GMC full-size pickup being involved in the shooting, according to the police report and additional log information. Two suspects were seen in the pickup and the passenger was pinpointed as the main suspect, the logs state.
No suspects had been apprehended as of Nov. 7, according to police. Two suspects were detained initially, according to log reports, but they were cleared as suspects and released.
Around 4 p.m., officers in the area were removing crime scene tape that had cordoned off the area, and a vehicle parked in the 1100 block of Oak Road was observed with a broken driver-side window and what appeared to be at least one bullet hole in the driver’s door near the sideview mirror.
An individual who was inspecting the damaged vehicle stated that he discovered a spent bullet. “I sure hope they catch who did this,” said a man who identified himself as the father of the victim.
The vehicle, a white Hyundai Sonata, was requested towed from the scene by police shortly after, according to logs.
No other information was available.
Anyone with information on the case or the suspect vehicle is being asked to contact El Centro police Detective Adrian Chilpa at 760-335-4662 or 760-337-4502.