ARMONA — After years of searching, local authorities arrested the sole suspect Friday in the 2011 killing of 22-year-old Isaac Donez.
The Lemoore Police Department said a recent anonymous tip suggested the suspect, 22-year-old Santiago Zamora, was in Kings County. Lemoore police, with help from other local law enforcement agencies including the Kings County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, took Zamora into custody around 11 a.m. at a residence in the 10000 block of Aster Circle in Armona.
Zamora was arrested on having an outstanding warrant in connection with the shooting.
Lemoore police Cmdr. Steve Rossi said the sheriff’s office took the lead in the arrest because it was in county jurisdiction. Rossi said authorities tried to ask any occupants in the home to come outside. No one came out.
“He actually fled the house, possibly out of a bedroom window,” Rossi said.
Zamora reportedly hopped a fence into a neighboring yard and climbed onto the roof of a house. Rossi said authorities had the area surrounded, and Zamora surrendered.
Police said the Nov. 28, 2011, shooting stemmed from rumors that Zamora had been physically abusing his girlfriend. One of the girlfriend’s relatives decided to confront Zamora at a Lemoore home in the 200 block of Meadow Place. Donez reportedly went with the relative to protect him.
During an argument between Zamora and the relative, Zamora reportedly shot Donez multiple times. Zamora, who was 18 at the time, was identified as the sole suspect in the shooting.
Police obtained an arrest warrant, but police said Zamora had either fled the area or gone into hiding.
Lemoore detectives followed up on numerous tips and sightings over the past four years, but police were unable to locate Zamora. Police enlisted the help of the U.S. Marshals Service in 2012, still to no avail.
Rossi said he believes the arrest brings some relief for detectives and for the families affected by the shooting. Although Zamora is the sole suspect, his guilt must still be established by an investigation and court process.
Rossi said that the tip that led to Zamora’s arrest was given anonymously. He expressed his gratitude to whoever reported the tip.
“Our detectives never gave up and, every tip or lead we got, we followed up on it,” Rossi said, adding that tips become fewer as more time passes after the crime.
Other agencies that assisted in Friday’s arrest included the Hanford Police Department, Kings County Sheriff’s Office, Kings County Gang Task Force and the Kings County Narcotics Task Force.