Police name suspect in young Stockton father's fatal shooting

Homicide detectives in Stockton have identified a 17-year-old high school student as a suspect wanted in the fatal shooting of a young father and youth minister on May 6.

STORY: Police say Stockton youth minister killed by stray bullet

Police spokesperson Officer Joe Silva said a no-bail arrest warrant for homicide has been issued for Keith Denegal Jr. in connection to the death of 23-year-old Jesus Villegas Mendoza. Investigators believe Mendoza was struck and killed by a stray bullet passing through the windshield of his car in the area of Main Street, near Sharon Avenue, that Tuesday evening.

Denegal was a junior at Edison High School and has not attended class since the incident, school officials said.

The high school staff is surprised of the allegations since Denegal was a popular student involved in after-school programs. Denegal, a football player and track athlete, was being scouted by several colleges.

"It was a shock when they named the suspect. It was not somebody who I would have ever suspect would do something like that," Edison High Principal Brian Biedermann said. "He was a 2nd team all league player last year, very good running back."

Denegal is described as 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 130 pounds. He is considered armed and dangerous.

Detectives believe Denegal is still in the Stockton area.

Anyone with information about Denegal's whereabouts was urged to call the Stockton Police Department at (209) 937-8377, the police Investigations Unit at (209) 937-8323 or Crime Stoppers at (209) 946-0600.


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