Santa Maria, Calif. – The Sheriff’s Office is releasing additional information regarding the shootings that occurred at Melody Market on Saturday, March 25, 2023.
On Saturday, just before 8 p.m., two vehicles, with four occupants in each vehicle, arrived separately at Melody Market. One of the occupants of the vehicles was 19-year-old Manuel Reyes Rios of Santa Maria. Moments later, an off-duty Santa Maria Police Officer arrived in his personal vehicle with his family. A fourth vehicle, with a woman and her two children also arrived at the market.
While the off-duty officer and the woman were inside the store, the two groups from the other vehicles engaged in a physical altercation in the parking lot. The off-duty officer had returned to his vehicle at the same time that Rios brandished a firearm and shot at the other group, striking one of them. Rios paused in his shooting, running past the off-duty officer who had drawn his firearm and police badge.
The off-duty officer verbally identified himself as an officer and ordered Rios to stop shooting and surrender. Rios did not comply with the off-duty police officer’s command, raising his firearm and shooting again at the other group and towards an occupied restaurant. This resulted in injury to one of the patrons from flying debris caused by Rios’ shooting. In that moment, the off-duty police officer fired at Rios until he dropped to the ground. The off-duty officer called emergency services on his cell phone, ushered the uninvolved bystanders into the market and sheltered them inside until deputies arrived.
Rios was pronounced dead at the scene with a ghost gun in his possession. The remainder of the subjects who were involved in the altercation, including the person shot by Rios, fled the scene prior to deputies’ arrival.
The Coroner’s investigation has preliminarily determined that Rios died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. The final cause and manner of death is pending toxicology.
The Sheriff’s Office is releasing a short video clip from the Melody Market security cameras that shows Rios, who is wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, during his first round of shooting. These are the seconds just before the off-duty officer intervened in the incident. This video has been shortened from its entire length to give the public a brief idea of the scene without compromising additional parts of the investigation that remains ongoing.
Link to video HERE.