A 23-year-old man was arrested today for the fatal shooting of a 26-year-old man in Santa Cruz Friday evening, police said. At about 5:40 p.m. Friday, police responded to a report of a shooting victim on a pathway along the Branciforte Creek near the 300 block of Dakota Avenue, according to police. Officers arrived and found the victim suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The man was taken to a local hospital, and police learned today that he succumbed to his injuries. Investigators believe the shooting was the result of a drug transaction gone bad, or potentially an intentional “drug rip off.” Narcotics were recovered at the scene, and the victim was a transient who had a history of drug-related arrests in the area, police said. Detectives eventually identified the shooting suspect as James Alexander Oehler, a resident of unincorporated Felton in Santa Cruz County. The semi-automatic handgun believed to be the murder weapon was also recovered at the scene by a police dog who found it buried under several inches of dirt in thick underbrush and poison oak, police said. At about 11:45 a.m. today, police received a 911 call about a suspicious person at the crime scene. Officers arrived and saw Oehler allegedly trying to find the gun. Oehler fled from police and eventually tried to force his way into an apartment in the 400 block of Dakota Avenue, but was forced back outside by the residents, who then called 911. He was finally cornered in the yard of a home in the 300 block of
Dakota Avenue and arrested after initially refusing to surrender to officers who were holding him at gunpoint, according to police. Oehler was booked into county jail on suspicion of the murder and other related charges, police said.
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