A Stockton gang member was sentenced today for a shooting in June 2017 at a busy north Chico intersection which left bullet holes in a business and an unoccupied child’s car seat.
Butte County Superior Court Judge James Reilley sentenced Tyrone Sotolongo, 24, to 34 years and 4 months in state prison.
District Attorney Mike Ramsey said Sotolongo was convicted in November by a jury of assault with a semi-automatic firearm, personal use of a firearm, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was also found to have a prior “strike” on his record – a 2013 conviction for assault with a firearm in Stockton.
Ramsey said the shooting occurred on June 7, 2017 shortly after 1:00 P.M. near the intersection of the Esplanade and Cohasset Road in Chico and numerous 911 calls poured into the Chico Police dispatch center from frightened citizens. In what Chico Police investigators later theorized was a possible drug deal gone awry, Sotolongo chased and fired at least nine shots from a 9mm semi-automatic handgun at a 23 year-old victim, also of Stockton. Witnesses said Sotolongo was shooting at the victim, who was running on foot in the area.
Security video showed Sotolongo firing through busy traffic in an attempt to hit his intended target.
One bullet entered an open optometrist’s office, landing 5 to 7 feet away from the receptionist. A second bullet penetrated an unoccupied car – striking a child’s car seat in the headrest.
Numerous Chico Police officers responded to the scene and were directed by citizens to a vehicle where Sotolongo was the passenger. When police attempted to stop the car, the driver, Marcelino Juarez, 23, of Stockton, sped off northbound on the Esplanade. While fleeing on the Esplanade, the vehicle ran two red lights at an estimated speed of 60-70 mph.
When the fleeing car pulled into Mandalay Court, Chico police officers boxed in the car and struck it with one of their patrol cars to bring the dangerous pursuit to a halt and arrested Sotolongo and Juarez.
Juarez was sentenced on October 11, 2017 to 3 years state prison for reckless evading.
When sentencing Sotolongo to the upper term, Judge Reilley noted Sotolongo’s prior criminal history and that Sotolongo’s conduct presented a significant risk to public safety.
Ramsey said “This shooting took place on a weekday afternoon in an area with heavy traffic and multiple open businesses. Sotolongo’s conduct was very dangerous and it was fortunate no one was struck by any of the multiple rounds fired. The lengthy sentence is clearly warranted given the exceptionally risky and violent conduct displayed by this gang member.”
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