When a 25-year-old man identified only as Armando E. by prosecutors was serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, he was used to the sound of bullets whizzing by his ears and the feeling of being shot. At home in Garden Grove, not so much. But while he was playing in the front yard with his 10-year-old sister during a family barbecue in May 2007, he heard the familiar sound of stray shots whistling by--and again felt the stinging pain that comes from being shot. He's still nursing injuries to this day, not from the middle of the War on Terror but Gang Crossfire Land, USA.
Today, the young man who fired the shots was sentenced to 34 years to life in state prison.
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Adrian Arroyo, 20, of Garden Grove, was found guilty by a jury in May of two felony counts of attempted murder, one felony count of active participant in criminal street gang carrying a loaded firearm in public, and one felony count of street terrorism. The sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity, the vicarious discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, and being a gang member armed with a firearm were also found true.
To give an idea of the war-like conditions on this side of the world, then-17-year-old Arroyo was accompanied at the time of the shooting by fellow gang banger Oscar Torres, who would go on to be rendered paralyzed in a subsequent gang shooting. He's serving eight years and eight months in state prison for that case, but he was not charged in the Arroyo shooting.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office statement on the sentencing follows:
November 5, 2010
GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO 34 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR SHOOTING AND INJURING US ARMY VETERAN CAUGHT IN CROSSFIRE WHILE DEFENDANT ATTEMPTED TO MURDER TWO RIVALS
SANTA ANA - A documented gang member was sentenced today to 34 years to life in state prison for shooting and injuring a U.S. Army veteran caught in the crossfire while attempting to murder two rivals. Adrian Arroyo, 20, Garden Grove, was found guilty by a jury May 27, 2010, of two felony counts of attempted murder, one felony count of active participant in criminal street gang carrying a loaded firearm in public, and one felony count of street terrorism. The sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity, the vicarious discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, and being a gang member armed with a firearm were found true. Arroyo was 17 years old when he committed the crimes and was direct-filed as an adult.
In the afternoon on May 11, 2007, Arroyo, a documented member of a Garden Grove Hispanic criminal street gang, was approached by two rival gang members who attempted to attack the defendant while walking in Garden Grove. Arroyo was able to escape and returned to his nearby home. The defendant told a gang associate, Oscar Torres, about the attempted attack and decided to retaliate.
At approximately 6:00 p.m. Arroyo and Torres drove in a Nissan Altima armed with a firearm looking for the two rivals, Bradley Lutman and Richard (last name unknown), that had attempted to attack the defendant earlier that day. Arroyo saw the rivals walking up to a home and got out of the car, firing at them several times. The shots missed the rivals and hit a 25-year-old U.S. Army veteran. Armando E., who had no gang ties, was playing in the front yard with his 10-year-old sister during a family barbeque. Arroyo's shot hit the Armando E. in the right cheek and exited the left cheek. The victim's sister called 911.
Arroyo and Torres got back into the Nissan and fled the scene. Arroyo was arrested on Sept. 11, 2007. The victim was transported to the hospital, where he was treated for the gunshot wound. He still suffers from nasal cavity damage.
At the time charges were filed against Arroyo, Torres had been sentenced eight years and eight months in state prison and rendered paralyzed in another Orange County gang-related shooting case. He was not charged in this case.
During trial against Arroyo, the victim testified that he knew he was being shot at after hearing a similar whistling sound that he had heard while being shot at during his service in Afghanistan.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos of TARGET prosecuted this case.