A gunfight during a robbery at a Fresno marijuana grow site left two suspects dead while their accomplices took a 15-year-old girl hostage.
Seven men, armed and dressed as police, burst into a home in south Fresno in an attempt to rob the residents of cash and weed, police said. They pistol-whipped one man inside the house and then started shooting.
The victims shot back, hitting two of the robbers before they could flee. One of those men was declared dead at the scene.
Two of the remaining suspects drove off in one car along with their wounded accomplice. A second vehicle sped away with the other three robbers and the teenage girl, who was used as a human shield and forced into the car.
“So far we have several children who were terrorized in their own home,” said Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims. “The teenage girl was used as a human shield as the suspects were leaving the residence, and they kidnapped her, putting her in the car.”
Neighbors who heard gunshots called police, and they arrived shortly after the robbers fled. Sheriff’s deputies spotted the two cars leaving the scene and chased them.
The car with the wounded robber drove to a nearby hospital with police on its tail. The man died there from a gunshot to the head. Suspects Sergio Hernandez, 23, and Chi Tang, 31, were arrested at the hospital.
The other car managed to elude police with the girl still inside. Those robbers eventually dropped her off near downtown Fresno, and she called a friend to take her back home. The three men in that car remain at large, police said.
Deputies found a trail of guns that were apparently thrown out the car window during the escape.
“Several shotguns and handguns have been recovered including one that the suspects threw out of their vehicle at Highway 41 and Central Avenue,” Mims said.
Deputies said they found about 150 marijuana plants at the home, growing on three plots.
Fresno County is one of the hardest places in the state to grow weed. All cultivation is banned, indoor and outdoor, with violators facing jail time and hefty fines. County supervisors’ decision to ban weed – despite the state law that allows it – was validated earlier this year by a state appellate court.
Rather than driving cultivators out of the county, supervisors have apparently just driven the industry underground. It may take years, but Fresno County will eventually come to the realization that you can’t stop a freight train by standing in its way.