Kern County Sheriff's deputies are investigating the May 5 shooting death of a Delano man, amid three separate shooting incidents that occurred within minutes of each other.

Michael Ernesto Serrato Marroquin, 21, was shot by another in the 800 block of Maria Way, according to sheriff's officials. He died at the scene from his injuries.

An autopsy is scheduled to confirm the cause and manner of death.

Then, at 8:07 a.m. May 7, sheriff's deputies responded to a dead body found along Wallace Road north of Cecil Avenue. Coroner's officials identified the body as 15-year-old Angel Manual Haro Villareal. No cause or manner of death has been determined.

Still, on May 6, Delano Police Chief Robert Nevarez said despite the agency having to deal with the importance of the COVID-19 crisis, "the biggest threat to our community is gun violence."

May 5 was an example, he said. The first "shots fired" call came at 10:50 p.m. in the 900 block of Dover Street. Police found no one injured or indications of gunfire. Then, minutes later at 10:57 p.m., Kern County Sheriff's deputies responded to the Maria Way shooting with three victims, including Marroquin. One victim suffered serious injuries, while the other suffered only minor injuries.

Finally, at 11:02 p.m., a shots fired call in the 300 block of 19th Avenue came in. Two vehicles were struck by gunfire, but no one was injured. The three shootings occurred within 12 minutes of each other, Nevarez pointed out.

Nevarez said that in 2018, Delano suffered 10 homicides. Last year, the town registered 8 homicides. So far this year, there have been two.

"My job," the chief said, "is to use our department resources and personnel to combat the threat of violence."

With all that is happening, Nevarez said, "If we take our eyes off of such violence, then (the criminals) will take advantage."

"We can't be distracted. We have to stay focused."

Nevarez has spoken to the McFarland Police chief and said the agencies will be working together to focus on the uptick in shootings.

"I can't prove (the May 5) shootings were related," he said. "But we have a strong suspicion that they are."

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