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Gaylen D. Lee - photo credit Tom Wheeler

Prominent Mono Elder And Author Gaylen Lee Killed Saturday Night In North Fork

NORTH FORK — Gaylen D. Lee, one of North Fork’s most prominent and well-respected residents and an Elder in the Mono Indian Tribe, died Saturday night after being shot at his home just off Cascadel Drive (Road 233).

The Madera County Sheriff’s Communications Center received a call Saturday night, July 6, at around 9:23 p.m. regarding a family disturbance in the 33000 block of Mission Drive.

“As deputies were en route, we received an update of multiple shots fired and at least one person being shot,” said the Madera County Sheriff’s Office  (MCSO) in a press release on the morning of July 7 which did not include the name of the victim. A later press release the same day, following notice of next of kin, identified the victim as Mr. Lee.

Robert Moye Jr. is being held without bail at the Madera County Jail and faces murder charges in the shooting of Gaylen Lee.

Robert Eugene Moye, Jr., 46, also of North Fork, was arrested at the scene and is being held without bond at the Madera County Jail on charges of murder, ownership/ possession/ control of a firearm by a felon/addict, and unlawful possession of ammunition.

Moye had reportedly been living in a structure located next door to Lee’s home.

Lee, 70, was a member of the Mono Indian Tribe and the author of “Walking Where We Lived,” a personal history of his North Fork Mono family.

In his book, Lee wrote about six generations of his family and their struggles with the treatment, problems and survival of the North Fork Indians.

Lee was reportedly shot by Moye after the two men argued about Moye racing around the area in a vehicle Saturday night.

The Sheriff’s Office reports that there had been an ongoing disagreement between the individuals and deputies had responded to multiple calls for service at the location, including on the day of the incident.

Earlier on Saturday, it was reported to the Sheriff’s Office that shots had been fired, with the reporting party stating that Moye had been firing shots in the area. The Sheriff’s Office contacted Moye who denied the allegation. There was no further investigation at that time so the call was closed.

“Following that call and prior to the incident, Moye was driving his vehicle up the shared driveway when, according to witnesses, he nearly struck a child,” the Sheriff’s Office stated.

“Mr. Lee and two nephews confronted Moye and words were exchanged. Moye said ‘Don’t follow me [up the driveway]’, threatened them and drove away.”

All three men reportedly followed him up the driveway on foot. Shortly after, the Sheriff’s Office says, the suspect began firing at the three men in his driveway from a wooded area near the residence.

Witnesses reported that Lee was shot in the leg.

Madera County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Autry was the first to arrive on scene Saturday night and found the victim’s family loading Lee into a private vehicle for transport to a hospital, according to MCSO.

“The two surviving non-injured victims verbally identified the shooter to Deputy Autry, and were able to describe the location they saw him retreat to,” MCSO said.

Deputy Autry conducted a search of the property and quickly located the subject in a wooded area near the victim’s residence, MCSO adds.

Moye was taken into custody without incident.

“While executing a search warrant at Moye’s residence, Madera County Sheriff’s detectives located an active marijuana grow and butane oil lab,” according to the Sheriff’s Office. “Narcotics agents are responding to the scene to continue the investigation. Additional felony charges related to the drug recovery may be pending.”

“Sadly, despite efforts by EMS, the victim succumbed to his wounds prior to transport,” MCSO said.

According to the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, the last homicide to occur in North Fork happened in December 2016.

This article was edited on July 10, 2019 to reflect additional statements and clarification from the Sheriff’s Office.

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