New details in Fresno apartment shooting that killed 4

By George Hostetter

Jan. 16, 2012

Fresno police this afternoon provided new details on Sunday’s shooting spree at a southeast Fresno apartment complex that left four people — two of them young children — dead.

Police identified the three murdered victims as Aliyah Echeverria, 17 months old, Isaiah Echeverria, 3, and Paul Medina, 27, who was a cousin of the children’s father. The shooter was identified as Aide Mendez, 23, the mother of the two young children.

Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster said the children’s father, Eduardo Lopez, 33, remains in critical condition at Community Regional Medical Center with stab wounds and a gunshot wound to the neck.

A 7-year-old girl who was a family friend was staying overnight in the apartment, but escaped unharmed, Foster said.

Foster described a chaotic morning that apparently began with at least some of the adults in the house smoking meth, and ended with police finding the mother dead in the bathroom and her children shot in the tub.

According to police, investigators found video of the cousin and the mother smoking meth early Sunday morning. They also found 10 grams of meth, $8,000 in cash and three handguns, two of which were operable.

Investigators are still not sure why, but at some point things got badly out of hand at the apartment. Neighbors, hearing gunshots, called police about 6:44 a.m. to report trouble.

The children’s father, Eduardo Lopez, fled the apartment with a gunshot wound to the neck, and banged on the door of a neighbor, yelling for help. The neighbor looked through the peephole to see Aide Mendez stabbing Lopez. The neighbor yelled at Mendez to stop. At that time, the 7-year-old girl fled screaming from the apartment.

Mendez retreated to the bathroom of her apartment. With police arriving at the complex, Mendez shot herself. Her children were in the bathtub, where they had been shot at least once. Arriving officers found the 17-month-old barely alive, but she died later at Community Regional Medical Center.

Foster said there was water in the bathtub at some point, but the children died of gunshot wounds, not drowning.

Investigators believe the couple lived at the apartment about two years. The cousin had moved in about six months ago. Foster said none of the adults were believed to be employed. Foster said officers had been to the family’s apartment several times in recent months for domestic disturbances, but they didn’t rise to the level where county Child Protective Services were needed to intervene.

Source: Fresno Bee