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Police seek clues in 'brazen' daytime slaying
Ceres police investigators are investigating Monday morning's fatal shooting of a man who was driving a pickup eastbound on Whitmore Avenue directly in front of McDonald's near Morgan Road.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department identified Amadeo Avilos, 20, of Modesto, as the victim.

Deputy Police Chief Mike Borges was tight-lipped about the investigation saying he did not want to jeopardize the case or suspect information.

"We're still developing information," said Borges. "I can't say he was a target and I can't say it was random. It's not that black and white."

At the scene police said their first suspicions were that the homicide was gang related but that was not confirmed. Later police said that there are no indications that Avalos was affiliated with any gangs and described him as a "hard working individual with no criminal background."

Avilos-Castellanos was shot multiple times through the driver's side window west of the Morgan Road intersection as he was headed eastbound. The red Chevy 1500 pickup - possibly a late 1990s or early 2000s model - continued through the intersection until his vehicle struck a chain link fence at the southeast corner of Whitmore and Morgan, narrowly missing a metal signal light pole. Avilos-Castellanos was dead when police arrived.

Sgt. Brent Smith said his officers found shell casings on Whitmore Avenue.

"It looks like they may have been waiting for him," said Smith.

Witnesses said that the gunman fled in a dark-colored vehicle.

"It was pretty brazen," said Ceres Police Chief Art deWerk. "It seems like most of these - if it's a gang related matter - tends to happen at night or in a secluded area but this was in a major intersection in broad daylight and I have grave concerns about what is going on," said Ceres Police Chief Art deWerk.

The shooting occurred at approximately 11:08 a.m.

Police closed Whitmore and Morgan to investigate the crime scene. Several shocked customers inside McDonald's were watching the police activity through the east windows.

Ceres Police Detective Keith Griebel is asking for the public's assistance in this case. Detectives are encouraging any witnesses with pertinent information regarding the deadly shooting to call them at (209) 538-5627.

This was the first Ceres homicide of 2010 and the third in six weeks. On Nov. 22, 2009 Ryan S. Flores, 33, was shot to death on Boothe Road. On Friday, Dec. 17, Diego Tovar, 32, was stabbed to death in a dispute over loud music being played in a Richland Avenue apartment complex. Three others were injured in the attack. Police arrested Ruben Ceja Artega, 40, of Ceres, with Tovar's murder.