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Motive sought in shooting of field worker

March 26, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

WINTERHAVEN — Investigators are searching for the motive that led a man to allegedly shoot another man and then kill himself here Saturday night.

Imperial County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a carrot field at Coley and Arnold roads around 10:35 p.m. Saturday after receiving a call that a man had been shot, sheriff's Sgt. Sharon Stogner said today.

Several tractor-trailer rigs were parked at the field as a group of 10 or more drivers gathered in the night waiting for the harvesting of the field that morning, Stogner said.

As the night wound down and people began heading off to go to sleep, one of the men, Serafin Lopez, was shot twice by a man as he walked back toward his rig, Stogner said.

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The suspect came from around a trailer and shot Lopez once in the stomach and once in the shoulder.

Lopez, who Stogner said is in his 30s, was taken to Yuma Regional Medical Center. He was released from the hospital Sunday.

Stogner did not know immediately where Lopez is from but did know he's not local.

Sheriff's Office deputies arrived and discovered one in the group was missing, Stogner said.

With the help of U.S. Border Patrol agents, deputies were setting up a perimeter around the scene when another gunshot was heard, Stogner said.

The suspect, Jose Jesus Jimenez, 21, of Bakersfield, was found dead around 2 a.m. Sunday, said county Chief Deputy Coroner Sgt. Rick Macken.

Jimenez died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in a rural desert area a few miles from the carrot field, Stogner said.

Investigators know of no motive for the shooting, Stogner said, adding there had been no arguments leading up to the incident.

The probe is continuing as investigators wait to further interview Lopez and receive toxicology and autopsy results on Jimenez.

Staff Writer Mario Renteria contributed to this story.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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