Friday, May 4, 2001

No motive for
shooting on Big Isle

A hearing is set for Melchor Ventura,
who was charged in April 22 gunfire

By Rod Thompson

HILO >> Bruce Bello noticed a black Honda car parked at an intersection a few hundred feet away as he talked to a friend at Yoshizawa Store in Pepeekeo, north of Hilo, on the afternoon of April 22.

A few moments later, Bello's friend drove away. Bello, 19, also started to leave, and the black car drove past him, its driver hitting Bello's truck with two gunshots.

A District Court preliminary hearing was set this week for May 23 for Melchor Ventura, 50, charged with attempted murder in the shooting.

Police arrested him Friday. Bello had noted the license plate number of the black car, which turned out to be registered to Ventura.

These and other details are revealed in court documents that supported search warrants of Ventura's car and Paradise Park home.

The documents are silent on one key point: why Ventura allegedly fired the shots at Bello.

Bello told police he saw the driver of the black car fire two shots at him with a handgun.

Court documents said police found bullet holes in Bello's left front fender and right door. They also found two spent bullets.

When they searched Ventura's property, they could not find a gun. No firearm is registered to him.

But records show Ventura has two prior felony firearms convictions, for having a gun in an improper place and for failing to have a permit for a gun, as well as three lesser convictions.

Bello identified Ventura in a photo lineup as the shooter.

Besides attempted murder, Ventura is charged with prohibited possession of a firearm and using a firearm in a felony.

He is being held in lieu of $65,000 bail.

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