Coroner rules death of S'side man a homicide

Yakima County Coroner Maury Rice has ruled out the possibility that Justin Melendez, 23, killed himself early Saturday morning at his Sunnyside residence.

"He died of a single gunshot wound to the head and the coroner has said there's no way it's suicide," said Det. Sgt. Jeff Cunningham, who was present at the autopsy yesterday (Monday) in Yakima.

"We collected evidence yesterday during the autopsy and from the crime scene. We interviewed the people who were at the house at the time and recovered a firearm. Family members have been interviewed, and we're still trying to find a few people to take statements," said Cunningham.

Sunnyside police officers and detectives, who responded to a report of shots fired at 507 South 12th Street at 1:20 a.m. Saturday morning, processed the scene and interviewed those present, including Melendez's brother, who shared the home with him, and Melendez's girlfriend, who apparently was first to report the shooting.

The family of Melendez has retained the services of an attorney.

Sunnyside detectives are continuing to investigate the shooting death.


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