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Manhunt on across California for killer of 19-year-old NorCal woman

Manhunt on for man police say fatally shot 19-year-old woman
Hollister Police Department

A fatal shooting of a 19-year-old woman in the Northern California farming community of Hollister is turning into a statewide manhunt as police search for the killer of the teen.

Hollister police say they have issued a statewide “Be On the Lookout” broadcast as they look for Jose Barajas, a 20-year-old man they’re describing as “armed and dangerous.” Barajas is wanted in the killing of Ariana Zendejas, who was shot Friday night and later died in a San Francisco Bay area hospital.

Police say Barajas may be on the run with a 20-year-old woman, but it’s not clear if the woman -- identified by police as Vanessa Flores -- is being held against her will.

Detectives named Barajas as a suspect shortly after staffers at Hollister’s Hazel Hawkins Hospital called police around 9 p.m Friday and told them them they were treating a gunshot victim -- later identified as Zendejas -- after she had been taken to the hospital in a private car.

Zendejas died later that night after being flown to a Bay Area hospital for additional treatment.

Late Sunday Hollister Police Chief David Westrick issued a statement offering his condolences to the Zendejas family and promising police would catch Barajas.

“We will not rest until we can get the victim’s family and friends some sense of justice from this tragedy in their lives,” the statement said “Part of that justice would be with the person responsible in a jail cell.”

Police said in a release that relatives of Zendejas, who is a resident of Hollister, was a cashier in a local K-Mart, and that she wanted to someday serve in the military.

The circumstances of what led to her shooting have not been released.

Besides releasing his photo, police are describing Barajas as 5’9” and weighing about 160 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. He has a tattoo of a “B” and a skull on his left forearm and skulls on his right forearm.

He was last seen in a late model, silver or gray KIA, mid sized SUV, and police say the last time Vanessa Flores was seen, she was in the vehicle with Barajas.