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Hilmar, CA

38-year-old shot and killed at Hilmar restaurant, deputies say

ABC30 Central Valley
ABC30 Central Valley
 29 days ago

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A popular bar in the small close-knit community of Hilmar is now the focus of a homicide investigation.

"Everybody knows everybody in Hilmar and so for this to happen, I think it's a big shock to Hilmar itself," says Merced County Sheriff Deputy Daryl Allen.

Late Sunday, The Hot Rod Diner was packed with people watching football and eating dinner.

Merced County Sheriff's deputies responded to the Diner after getting reports of a shooting around 7 pm.

They found 38-year-old Jasper Gray dead from an apparent gunshot wound.

Authorities say there was an argument between Gray and the person of interest -- 29-year-old Dominick Jeffery Rufo.

Deputy Allen says this was an isolated incident.

"This gentleman was the target," he said. "There wasn't anybody just walking into the building and shooting. This gentleman was the target because of that argument."

Authorities have talked to several witnesses and are still looking for more information.

The workers at Hot Rod Diner are all okay, but still reeling from the shooting.

"The bartender that was on duty, she's well aware of precautions and other things that have happened," says Lauren Seward. "Nothing that serious, but she knew exactly what to do and she made sure all the customers were safe."

Seward sends her condolences to the victim's family.

She says she wants to reassure the community that they are open for business and there's no need to be afraid.

"It's been very slow today (Monday)," she said. "We had a lot of phone calls and people concerned. It's a small community. We have tons of people that come in daily and the regulars have not come in today. I just want everyone to know it's safe here. We are open, we have taken all precautions, there is nothing to be concerned about and we look forward to seeing everyone in the future."

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