Erik Rocha Fernandez

A 20-year-old man was arrested Saturday on suspicion of murder in the shooting death of a Santa Maria resident who was found deceased in a vehicle near the intersection of Preisker Lane and North Broadway on Friday.

Officers responded to a report of a shooting victim inside of a vehicle shortly after 2 a.m. near the intersection, along the on-ramp leading to Highway 101, where they located 29-year-old Frankie Placido Hernandez, of Santa Maria, according to Lt. Terry Flaa.

An initial investigation revealed that the shooting had occurred near a business at the intersection of North Broadway and Grant Street, although Hernandez had apparently driven a short distance north before stopping. Hernandez was declared dead at the scene, according to Flaa. 

Santa Maria Police investigators identified Rocha as the suspect and initiated an extensive search and surveillance operation with help from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office. 

29-year-old Santa Maria man found fatally shot inside vehicle near Preisker Lane, North Broadway

Rocha was located riding a bicycle near Donovan Road and North Elm Street shortly before 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and arrested, according to Flaa. Rocha was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of murder. 

The reason for the shooting wasn't released, although police believe that it is not gang-related, according to Flaa. 

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