Police have identified a suspect in the shooting death of a 22-year-old Oceanside pre-school teacher shot and killed over the weekend.
The Oceanside Police Department is asking the public for help locating Vicente Huerta, who they say is a 25-year-old Oceanside gang member. Huerta is accused of shooting and killing Chelsea Pacheco near Bush Street and Archer Street.
Investigators say Pacheco, 22, was riding in a car with friends at around 11:45 a.m. when they got into an altercation with Huerta. As they drove away, Huerta fired at their vehicle, OPD Lt. Taurino Valdovinos said.
Pacheco's friends apparently didn't realize she had been shot, according to Lt. Valdovinos.
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"The reporting party advised their friend was having a panic attack and was having difficulty breathing," Valdovinos said. "Officers arrived and located a 22-year-old female who was not breathing. Officers provided medical aid until medics arrived and transported her to Tri-City Medical Center, where she was pronounced deceased."
OPD described Huerta as 6 feet 3 inches tall, 200 to 230 pounds and bald. He has several tattoos on his head, including the number 3 on top of his head and a tattoo over his right eyebrow, according to OPD. Police consider Huerta dangerous.
KinderCare in Oceanside confirmed Monday that Pacheco was a pre-school teacher there, primarily in charge of taking care of 2-year-olds. KinderCare staff described her as very attentive to her students.
Pacheco's friend Justin Pulido said she was adventurous and a risk-taker.
"Too risky, at times, because she would have to push me into doing things a lot of the time," Pulido said.
When he heard the news, Pulido said his first reaction was disbelief.
“At first I thought, ‘This has to be wrong.’" he said. "At first, it was denial, trying to figure out what really happened.”
Loved ones gathered for a vigil Saturday night and left a small vigil outside Pacheco's home that is growing every day.
Police have not arrested the shooter, but described him as a 20 to 30-year-old man, bald, between 5-feet-10 inches and 6 feet tall with a stocky build.
Pulido said Pacheco's family wants to see the shooter be brought to justice.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact OPD Detective Dave Estrada at 760-435-4698.