Porterville father arrested after child’s fentanyl scare

Tulare County Sheriff’s deputies arrest a man after his 2-year-old son is found with fentanyl in system; child expected to fully recover

By Mid Valley Times Staff
Published March 16, 2024  • 
9:00 am

TULARE COUNTY – The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office recently arrested a father after his 2-year-old son was found unconscious with fentanyl in his system.

Just after 2 p.m. on March 11, TCSO deputies were called to the sub-100 block of Chimney Road on the Tule River Indian Reservation because the child in question was not breathing and unresponsive. CPR was initiated and the child was transported to Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera. 

The child’s father, Gary Stewart, 25, of Porterville, told deputies that the child had fallen asleep with a mouth full of chips, when he began to choke.

Valley Children’s Hospital evaluated the child and determined he had fentanyl in his system. Child Welfare Services was called to the scene.

Stewart told detectives that he had fentanyl on him, which was how the child had gotten it into his system. Stewart was taken into custody and later booked into TCSO Pre-Trial.

The child is currently listed in stable condition and is expected to recover.

Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact Detective Jeremy McMillan and/or Sergeant Merced Zamora with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at 559-733-6218. Or, they can remain anonymous by calling or texting 559-725-4194 or through email at tcso@tipnow.com.

March 8

Earlier this year on Jan. 16, Sheriff’s deputies were called to a home in the 30600 Block of Road 72 in Goshen after family members reported an unresponsive 14-year-old girl. The girl was taken to a local hospital where she was later pronounced dead. Deputies noticed multiple indicators that suggested severe neglect potentially played a role in the child’s death.

Throughout the next several weeks after the girl’s death, detectives worked diligently to serve multiple warrants, collect additional evidence and conduct numerous interviews. Through investigation, detectives learned the girl’s father, Raymond Pena, 50, and the girl’s step-grandfather, Brett Minkler, 64, engaged in prolonged sexual abuse with the 14-year-old and another underage girl. 

During the investigation, detectives determined the 14-year-old girl died as a direct result of severe neglect by her father and her step-grandfather. Both were arrested on March 1, and booked into custody at the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office Adult Pre-Trail Facility. They were charged with homicide and felony child abuse resulting in death for their roles in the death of Pena’s 14-year-old daughter.

Detectives also determined additional girls frequented the home of Pena and Minkler and are working to identify these individuals to determine if there are additional victims.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Sergeant S. Olmos and Detective J. Haro with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at 559-733-6218. Or they can remain anonymous by calling or texting 559-725-4194 or through email at tcso@tipnow.com.

March 9

TCSO detectives in the Tulare Area Gangs and Narcotics Enforcement Team (TAGNET) arrested a second suspect in a gang-related shooting that occurred last year on Oct. 19, 2023, at a gas station in Orosi.

During their investigation, detectives determined Jose Godoy, 36, was involved in an argument at the gas station. Godoy pulled out a gun and handed it to his friend, Erik Garcia, who then shot at the victim as he ran away.

Garcia was arrested a week after the shooting, but Godoy fled the area and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

On the afternoon of March 8, TAGNET detectives tracked down Godoy at a home in Dinuba and arrested him. He was booked at the Tulare County Adult Pretrial facility for assault with a deadly weapon.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at 559-733-6218, or anonymously through our TipNow Program at 559-725-4194 or tcso@tipnow.com.

Mid Valley Times Staff