Shooting opposite Gospel Center marks Stockton's 42nd homicide this year

Commotion and gunshots left one dead Wednesday night on the outskirts of downtown Stockton, residents said.

"Everybody out here has a gun," said an employee at Gospel Center Rescue Mission. The homeless shelter's South San Joaquin Street building sits feet from the intersection where Wednesday's fatal encounter occurred.

Shortly before 10:30 p.m. last night, the employee said he heard a "commotion" involving multiple people.

"I heard the gunshots, and I went down," he said.

Community members The Record spoke with asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.

Police received a call reporting the shooting at 10:31, a Stockton Police Department release said. Two men, ages 18 and 34, had been shot, police said.

Paramedics rushed both men to the hospital, where the older man died, police spokesman Officer Omer Edhah said.

He was Richard Villanueva, a Stockton resident, a spokesperson for the San Joaquin County Medical Examiner's Office said.

The younger man's wounds were not life-threatening, the department statement said.

It's still unclear what led up to the shooting, but the Gospel Center employee said drug sales are "constant" near the corner of South San Joaquin and East Church Street.

"This is probably the biggest drug hotspot in the city of Stockton," he said. "They sell drugs out here with impunity."

The employee estimated that around 18 shootings had happened near the corner just this year, he said.

One resident said she was sitting in her car on South San Joaquin Street, just back from looking for help jump-starting her car, when she saw a group of young people gathering in the street.

Typically, when a crowd would gather at the corner, the resident would move her car — where she also lives — somewhere safe, she said.

But last night, she was stuck, she said. When shots rang out, all she could do was duck under a blanket in the car, she said.

When police arrived to investigate the scene, they confiscated her car, the resident said.

She was afraid it could lead the perpetrators to believe she had information or evidence about the shooting, she added.

"Now I know not to help. Now I know to stay put."

By about 9:45 a.m. Thursday morning a detective was still at the scene waiting for help with cleanup.

Peacekeepers from the Office of Violence Prevention were also speaking with community members on Thursday in the neighborhood.

The police department has released no information about suspects or motives in the shooting. It marks Stockton's 42nd homicide so far this year.

Record reporter Aaron Leathley covers public safety. She can be reached at or on Twitter @LeathleyAaron. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at

This article originally appeared on The Record: Shooting near Gospel Center marks Stockton's 42nd homicide this year