The discovery of a bullet-riddled car abandoned with the engine still running under a freeway overpass touched off a grim search Thursday for the car's driver, a 20-year-old Moorpark woman.
Shell casings found near the car on New Los Angeles Avenue under the Moorpark Freeway bridge indicate the shots came from an assault rifle, said Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Nelson. Traces of blood were also found inside the rented, dark green Pontiac Sunfire, he said.
Megan Barroso was last seen leaving a friend's house in Thousand Oaks about 2:30 a.m. after attending a Fourth of July party, authorities said. Her car was discovered about 4 a.m. by a private security guard.
Barroso's disappearance left authorities, family members and friends baffled.
A part-time Moorpark College student who works for an Oxnard clothing manufacturer, Barroso did not have enemies, a criminal record or other associations that might make her vulnerable to such an attack, they said.
"Why she would be targeted, we don't know," Nelson said. "It's tragic. We don't know where this person is, or whether she is OK."
Her father, Art Barroso, said he could not understand why anyone would want to harm his daughter.
The elder Barroso described his daughter as a well-grounded young woman who was at a crossroad in her life.
He said she wanted to make something of herself but had yet to find a focus.
After graduating from Camarillo High School, she moved briefly to Atascadero to live with her mother before returning to her father's house in El Rio, he said.
She moved to Moorpark about a year ago.
Since she worked nearby, however, she would often drive to her father's house on weekdays for lunch, he said, adding that he had last spoken with her Tuesday.
His daughter had gone with a friend from Thousand Oaks to a Fourth of July party Wednesday night, her father said.
Megan Barroso's friend was the last person to see her, Art Barroso said.
She lived with a roommate at the Le Club apartment complex on Moorpark Avenue, two miles from where her car was found.
She rented the car while her own vehicle was being serviced.
By midafternoon, a search party of 30 deputies, two dozen volunteers, a helicopter and a K-9 unit scoured the area where the car was found but had found no clues. The search in that area was scaled back.