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Turlock shooting claims CVHS grad
• Club shooting takes life of Robert Morgan
Robert Morgan murdered
Former Ceres resident and Central Valley High graduate Robert Morgan, 31, was murdered early Sunday in Turlock. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Weekend violence in Turlock left two men dead, one of them a 2009 graduate of Central Valley High School in Ceres.

Robert Morgan, 31, was killed in a shooting early Sunday on Main Street in downtown Turlock.

Morgan, who was employed as a security guard at Grand Cru but off-duty spending time with friends, became involved in a physical altercation with another man near the rear of The Udder Place. Security officers at the bar escorted out several Hispanic men involved in an altercation, according to Turlock Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Parmley “but the fight continued, and Morgan stepped in while off duty to assist his co-workers.”

An unidentified occupant of a dark-colored sedan stopped, got out, and fired multiple gunshots at the victim before returning to the vehicle and fleeing the scene. Police were called at 1:38 a.m.

Officers found Morgan suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and attempted life-saving measures until emergency medical personnel arrived and rushed him to a hospital. He was pronounced dead at 2:16 a.m.

A perimeter was established around the downtown bars as detectives processed the scene, which included examining evidence including video surveillance, and conducting interviews with witnesses. Additional resources including the Major Accident Investigation Team and Special Investigations Unit were brought in to support Detectives in the investigation and use specialized equipment to process the crime scene, said Parmley.

“It’s a senseless killing,” said Darryl Dickson, Morgan’s basketball coach during his senior and junior years. “To lose a good soul like that is so sad. I feel bad for his family. I definitely remember him. He was a fun-loving, outgoing, friendly kid. He liked to joke around. He always had a good attitude. He always had a smile on his face. He loved being a part of the team. He always tried to encourage and help his teammates. He’s going to be missed.”

Morgan lettered in basketball and track and field while at CVHS. He was a team captain in his final season of hoops with the Hawks.

“I knew him through friends,” said Ryan Donnelly, a 2014 Central Valley graduate. “I played against him a few times in the Riverbank Adult League. He was a nice guy. He didn’t cause any trouble.”

Jerry Powell, owner of Grand Cru, made the decision to close his establishment for two weeks to improve safety measures.

“I had a discussion with Mr. Powell regarding this tragedy at Grand Cru, and he let me know he is heartbroken at the loss a valued staff member and friend,” said Turlock Chief of Police Jason Hedden. “He also informed me that he is closing his business immediately to conduct a review and ensure that Grand Cru is a safe place for both patrons and employees.

“I am employing new, state of the art technologies and resources to combat violent crime in our city to keep our residents and businesses safe and secure,” Hedden said. “We will not tolerate this kind of activity and want our residents to know we are working hard and will continue to update the public as information can be shared during these investigations.”

Less than 24 hours earlier Turlock investigators had been in the nearby area investigating a shootout that claimed the life of Romeo Portillo, 21, of Patterson and injured a 20-year-old Patterson man.

Turlock Police Detective Sgt. Victor Barcellos said the shootings did not appear to be related.

The shootings may not be related, but the spate of deadly violence in the downtown area has unnerved residents, business owners and city officials.

Kyle Brown, an acquaintance of Morgan’s since he was four, created a GoFundMe fundraiser page for Morgan’s family. To donate, visit: As of Tuesday morning, 201 people donated $11,175 toward the goal of $15,000.

“Robert had a gift that connected him to people from all walks of life,” said Brown.

Numerous friends expressed shock and sadness on social media after learning of the killing.

“I’m gonna miss you dude,” shared Cody Sterling in a Facebook post. “You always made work easier. You were a brother I didn’t know I needed. You always knew how to make me feel better and always kept a smile on everyone’s face. Rest easy brother.”

“Absolutely heartbroken,” Tiffany Ann Hart wrote. “Robert Morgan, you were an incredible friend to me over the last year. Always checking up on me through everything I’ve been going through. Talking about life, love, the hard stuff. I can’t even wrap my head around you actually being gone right now. I’m so glad we reconnected and I’m going to miss the random ‘you good?’ messages. I feel like you didn’t have a mean bone in your body. Always kind and absolutely hilarious, even when times were hard for you. I will miss you, as will so many others. RIP my friend.”

Curtis Newingham said Morgan was a good guy who was “always first to jump in and help, making people laugh and the life of the party. You’ll always be a great memory brother. Rest easy my friend. You will be missed!”

Morgan lived in Turlock. He is survived by his parents, Teresa and Rick, and older brothers Thomas and Richard.

Turlock Journal staff reporter Sabra Stafford contributed to this report.

Robert Morgan CVHS play days
Robert Morgan, pictured here in his days playing basketball at Central Valley High School, was fatally shot during an altercation behind a Turlock bar over the weekend. - photo by DALE BUTLER/ Courier file photo