HPD Chief Carlos Reynoso said there is no evidence the victims were affiliated with gangs and the shooting was likely a case of mistaken identity. Photo by John Chadwell.
HPD Chief Carlos Reynoso said there is no evidence the victims were affiliated with gangs and the shooting was likely a case of mistaken identity. Photo by John Chadwell.

Alfredo Zendejas, 28, was arrested by law enforcement in connection with the March 26 drive-by shooting in Hollister. Police said Zendejas may have been targeting someone else when he opened fire at a group of people on the 300 block of Rustic Street that resulted in the death of Jaime Jesus Gomez, 23, and Daniel Eli Gonzalez, 21, and injuring three others.

Hollister Police Chief Carlos Reynoso said during an April 1 news conference that Zendejas was a former city resident and a “drop-out” from the Norteños street gang. Reynoso said Zendejas was possibly involved in a personal vendetta when he mistook one of the victims for his intended target. Two Hollister residents, Jaime Jesus Gomez, 23, and Daniel Eli Gonzalez, 21, died in the drive-by shooting.

The killings took place on March 26 at 8:49 p.m. on the 300 block of Rustic Street. Gomez and Gonzalez died at the scene. Also shot were three other unidentified individuals who were transported to area trauma centers and are recovering.

Reynoso said Zendejas is being charged with two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and being a felon in possession of a firearms, ammunition, clips and a ballistic vest. 

He said the investigation involved HPD, San Benito County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, the county probation office, and the district attorney’s office, as well as San Jose law enforcement.

He said neighborhood surveillance cameras captured part of the shooting, but there was not enough information to identify the suspect or the vehicle. Additional video from cameras downtown revealed the vehicle traveling through town before the shooting, which police used to identify the vehicle and Zendejas.

Over the last two days Detectives Bryce Morgan and Thomas Torres worked to locate Zendejas in San Jose, according to Reynoso.

“Yesterday, they obtained an arrest warrant for the murders,” he said. “Along with the assistance of the San Jose Police Department’s Covert Response Unit, which was able to locate him and surveilled him for several hours.”

Zendejas was arrested and brought back to Hollister, then booked at the county jail. Reynoso said the investigation is preparing to present the case to the district attorney.

“Initially, this was reported as a possible gang-related case,” he said. “We stand by that statement because the tactics used by this suspect were gang related. The suspect is a prior gang member and there’s evidence to suggest that this was a case of mistaken identity. We want to emphasize that none of the victims are affiliated with any gang. They were just victims mistaken by the suspect as someone else.”

Morgan said there is no evidence at this time that any other individual was involved in the shooting. He told reporters that all five victims were related either as cousins or half-brothers. 

Morgan said it appeared that an automatic weapon was used. Such a weapon was found at Zendejas’ residence. Reynoso said Zendejas is well known by police and has been arrested several times before. He declined to go into Zendejas’ past criminal history.

Gonzalez’s grandmother, Rev. Ardyss Golden, said her grandson was a kind person, who grew up and went to church in Hollister.

“I don’t think there will be anybody that you meet that won’t tell you what a kind family this is and how much they cared about one another and how they worked to take care of each other,” she said. “[Daniel and his brother Henry’s] dad was incredibly against them being involved in any kind of gangs. That was a big conversation. No gangs. No colors. We belong to no gangs, and that was absolutely true of Daniel. He must have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. I can’t believe that he or Henry [who was wounded] were involved in anything.”

Gomez’s father, Alejandro Gomez, said none of the family were gang members.

“They were hard-working kids,” he said. “My son just got home from working at Amazon. He didn’t even get a chance to go inside and relax when this happened. They were hard workers, ball players. I started a basketball team with my son. We needed help because our team wasn’t so good. He told me about his cousin, Daniel, and once I saw him play I said, ‘Man, you’re coming on my team.’ He was my point guard, so I got to know him really good. He was very loving, very respectful, just like my son.”

He said it was a shame that people might think there was a gang connection.

“They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time, and that makes it even more heartbreaking,” he said. “To lose them like that is a real tragedy. It’s just sad.”

Linda Lampe, the director of Hollister Community Outreach, said when she first heard about the shooting she was concerned for the mothers and all their children, but when she found out that Gonzalez was one of the victims, she was shocked because his grandfather, Ray Gonzalez, works part-time for her as a cook at her nonprofit My Father’s House to feed the homeless.  

“Sometimes he’d bring his grandsons there,” she said. “It really hits home. Whether we know people or not in this community, we, as parents, mothers, fathers, grandparents must reach out to these young people. This is a precious family. They do a lot for our community.”

Reynoso called the incident a senseless killing and emphasized again that the department has no information that any of the victims were involved in gangs.


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John Chadwell worked as a feature, news and investigative reporter for BenitoLink on a freelance basis for seven years, leaving the role in Sept. 2023. Chadwell first entered the U.S. Navy right out of...