Bicyclist, 24, Wounded in Newhall Drive-By Shooting

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Newhall bicycle rider was wounded Friday in what is believed to be only the second drive-by shooting in the Santa Clarita Valley within the last five years, authorities said.

Enrique Gonzalez, 24, was wounded in the thigh, forearm and chest about 1:30 a.m. in Newhall, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said. Gonzalez was in stable condition at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.

Gonzalez was riding his bicycle in the 24300 block of San Fernando Road near 8th Street when a car containing three young men pulled up alongside him, Lt. Harvey Cantor said.

One of the passengers yelled, "Where are you from?" in Spanish and Gonzalez replied in Spanish, "From nowhere," Cantor said.

The passenger in the front seat then pulled out a handgun and shot Gonzalez three times, Cantor said.

"We don't know why they shot him," Cantor said. "We interviewed him and he doesn't know."

Cantor said Gonzalez does not belong to a gang. But he said Gonzalez's assailants may be gang members because it is common among Southern California gangs to ask possible rivals their hometown before a confrontation.

"Their phraseology is used by gang members, but we don't have any suspect information so we just don't know," Cantor said. "This area doesn't have much of this type of activity."

Police also are seeking a young man who was speaking with Gonzalez minutes before the shooting. The young man, an acquaintance who was walking along the street next to the victim, ran away when the shots were fired, Cantor said. Gonzalez does not know how to contact the man, but investigators hope he can identify the gunmen.

Authorities were unable to say when the most recent drive-by shooting occurred in the Santa Clarita area, but Cantor said, "I think there was at least one other one in the past five years."

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