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SAN CLEMENTE : Man Fatally Shot After Altercation Identified

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Sheriff’s officials Tuesday identified the victim of a Monday night gang shooting as 18-year-old Jose Zarate Chavez of San Clemente.

Investigators Tuesday also found the light blue 1970s Mercedes-Benz that may have been used in the shooting abandoned at a San Juan Capistrano street corner.

Chavez was shot at the wheel of his Mercury Lynx at 8:30 p.m. after he drove alongside the Mercedes at Avenida del Mar and Ola Vista and occupants of the two cars argued, Sheriff’s Lt. Ron Wilkerson said.

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“Words were exchanged between the two cars questioning gang affiliations,” Wilkerson said. “Then shots rang out.”

Wilkerson said it’s unclear whether anyone in the Lynx fired at the Mercedes.

Chavez and three friends were following the Mercedes, occupied by five males. When the Mercedes stopped at the red light westbound on Avenida del Mar, the Lynx pulled into eastbound traffic lanes next to it and the confrontation began.

Chavez was struck in the upper torso by at least one bullet, Wilkerson said. He was pronounced dead at Samaritan Medical Center in San Clemente shortly after the shooting. The other occupants of the Lynx were detained for questioning but were not arrested, Wilkerson said.

A witness chased the Mercedes for miles but lost track of it on northbound Interstate 5 at Crown Valley Parkway, Wilkerson said.

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