PALM DESERT, Calif. -- A tape of a 911 call reporting the deadly shooting at a crowded Toys "R" Us store in Palm Desert last week revealed pandemonium as the confrontation came to an end and a clerk pleaded to authorities for help.
"I think this guy's dying. Please hurry," a clerk at the Toys "R" Us store at 72314 Highway 111, near Fred Waring Drive, told a 911 dispatcher.
Alejandro Moreno, 39, of Desert Hot Springs, and Juan Meza, 28, of Cathedral City, shot each other to death around 11:30 a.m. Friday as parents and children shopping for holiday gifts jammed the store, said Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez.
Two guns were recovered near the men's bodies, authorities said.
During the 911 recording released Monday, what sounds like a gunshot can be heard as the clerk tries to describe what's happening in the store.
"Oh, my God," she screams.
"What's going on?" the dispatcher says.
"All I know is these two guys started fighting, and now these two guys are on the floor and both of them are shot," the clerk says. "They're both down. They're both down. Please hurry."
The 2 1/2-minute recording is replete with cries and screams, sometimes drowning out the caller's voice.
The dispatcher tells the clerk more than once she cannot understand her and to move somewhere where there's less noise.
The clerk describes what the men are wearing and where one of the suspects is lying.
Sheriff's deputies arrive by the end of the recording.
Witnesses said the men were with two women who got into a fight that escalated into the fatal shootings, which sent terrified shoppers and their children scrambling for cover.
Joan Barrick of Desert Hot Springs told City News Service she was about six feet away from the shooting when it occurred.
She said two young Latino women got into a fight, and that Meza showed he had a gun.
Barrick's husband, Scott Barrick, said the older man -- Moreno -- then pulled his own firearm, and the suspects began running through the store shooting at each other.
The store reopened Saturday with a beefed up security detail.
Gang Connection Investigated
At least one of the two men who died in the shootout is believed to be a gang member, Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco said Tuesday, and both had criminal records.
Pacheco said Meza sported a tattoo of "MVM," indicating that he belonged to a Mecca-area gang.
"You don't identify yourself with a gang just to get murdered," Pacheco said.
According to court records, Meza pleaded guilty in March to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He pleaded guilty to the same charge in November 2007.
In September 2005, Meza pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon, and in 2002, he pleaded to possessing a controlled substance for sale while armed, according to court records.
Records show that Moreno had a criminal record spanning back to 1998, when he pleaded guilty to inflicting corporal injury on a spouse. As part of the plea deal, charges of assault with a deadly weapon, criminal threats and willfully harming a child were dismissed.
There was no official word of any relationship between the victims or exactly what triggered the shooting, but authorities said there may have been bad blood between the two couples.
No one has been arrested and no suspects are being sought, but the investigation is continuing, said sheriff's Detective Matt Diaz.