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Anthony Joseph Santos

The Merced County Sheriff’s Department arrested a suspect believed to have gunned down a man in a Santa Nella RV park on Friday as he walked to get breakfast with his girlfriend.

The deceased has been identified as Andrew May 27, of Santa Nella.

The suspect, identified by the sheriff’s department as Anthony Joseph Santos, 24, of Santa Nella, was apprehended one day after the homicide as he tried to make an escape from the SWAT team.

Around 7:30 a.m. Friday, May was walking with his girlfriend on East Comet Road in the RV park. The RV park is located at 13023 Highway 33 in Santa Nella. 

The pair were walking to a nearby McDonald’s to get breakfast, when a car pulled up next to them, said sheriff’s department spokesman Deputy Daryl Allen.

The driver of the car got out and immediately fired several rounds at May, striking him multiple times, Allen said. The shooter got back into the vehicle and fled, leaving may mortally wounded. May was pronounced dead at the scene.

The girlfriend was not injured in the attack.

Detectives with the sheriff’s department were called out to the scene to investigate the shooting. Based on witness statements and surveillance camera footage from area businesses, they were quickly able to identify the suspect.

“He is someone we have had prior contact with and knew exactly who he was,” Allen said.

An arrest warrant was obtained for Santos and was served at his home in the 2900 block of Camino Court on Saturday morning. Camino Court is in a newer housing development located behind the RV park.

The sheriff’s department deployed the SWAT team to take Santos into custody because it was suspected he was armed.

As the team was serving the warrant, Santos crawled out a window and sought to make an escape by jumping over a fence. But his plan was thwarted when he landed directly in front of some of the SWAT members. Santos was then taken into custody without further incident.

A firearm was recovered at Santos’ residence, but it is not yet known if it was the one used in the homicide.

Santos remains in custody at the Merced County Jail in lieu of a $1.5 million bail. he has been charged with murder in the first degree with an enhancement.