Drive-by victim shot in face

July 28, 2000
Santa Paula News
The condition of a Santa Paula man believed to be a gang member has been upgraded after he was hit in the face by a shotgun blast Monday late afternoon at a busy intersection. According to SPPD Sgt. Michael Saviers, police and fire responded to the intersection of Main and 12th streets at 5:01 p.m. on July 24th, “concerning a shooting that had just occurred at that location. . .upon arrival, a single victim of a gunshot was found.”Joe Rivas, 20, of Santa Paula had been driving southbound on 12th Street and was turning west onto Main Street when a shotgun blast rang out. Rivas was hit in the left side of his face and the left hand it is believed he held up when he realized he was being targeted.Witnesses told police the shotgun blast came from a second vehicle “with numerous subjects inside,” Sgt. Saviers said.Rivas staggered from the vehicle and his unidentified passenger took off, fleeing the scene on foot and leaving his wounded companion behind. Rivas walked to the west and then back to the corner of Main and 12th streets, leaving a trail of blood on the sidewalk, cars parked at the curb and on the partially glass fronted business building he leaned against before collapsing on the sidewalk.“It was terrible,” said a witness who asked not to be identified. “After he was shot his friend ran away,” west on Main Street as the vehicle holding the shooters turned through a nearby parking lot and then fled on foot north on 12th Street.Relatives and friends of Rivas that live near the scene of the shooting ran to the corner and several women became hysterical; Ventura County Sheriff’s were summoned to handle crowd control but SPPD officers were able to defuse the situation before deputies arrival.Santa Paula Fire Department EMTs worked on the highly tattooed Rivas at the scene before he was transported by ambulance to Santa Paula Memorial Hospital where he was admitted in critical condition. Rivas was transferred to Ventura County Medical Center; his condition was upgraded to serious on Tuesday.
Rivas had surgery on his left eye but “rumor has it he lost his eye,” said a source close to the investigation.Rivas has had run ins with the police and is believed to be a member of a local gang: the shooting and his lack of cooperation in finding the shooter points to gang involvement.“Nobody is cooperating but it’s being worked with what little they have to work with,” said SPPD Commander Mark Hanson.Rivas is believed to know the occupants of the vehicle where the shotgun was fired from but has refused to tell police and won’t tell investigators who his companion was.

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