Robbery Turns to Fatal Shooting in Visalia

A baptism turned tragic early Sunday morning, when a Visalia man was shot in an apparent robbery-gone-wrong.

Sergio Lonbera, 34, of Visalia, was attending a baptism celebration Saturday night at a home on the 1500 block of North Encina in Visalia. The party went late and shortly after midnight Lonbera went across the street to move a friend’s vehicle.

Party-goers later reported to the Visalia police department that they saw two people approach Lonbera, according to Sgt. Ernie Villa of the Visalia Police Department. Witnesses reported seeing Lonbera talk to the two, who appeared to be male. The men were seen patting Lonbera down and the shots were fired. Lonbera had been shot several times in the back and the suspects fled on foot.

Party-goers called 911 and Lonbera went to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia and then was sent in critical condition to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Villa said. Lonbera died from his injuries at approximately 3 a.m.

Villa said the Visalia Police Department is investigating this crime, canvassing the neighborhood to see if anyone heard or saw something suspicious immediately prior to the incident. Police have interviewed witnesses and the suspects are apparently unknown to the victim or the witnesses.

This was a “crime of opportunity, a robbery-gone-bad,” Villa said. Lonbera wasn’t carrying a wallet when the ambulance came.

Little is known about the suspects, since it was dark and the witnesses were all at the party across the street from the incident. The VPD is asking anyone with information that could be helpful in this case to contact Det. Lampe of the Visalia Police Department at (559) 713-4741.

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