A 36-year-old man was convicted Thursday of shooting at a father and son in an unprovoked gang challenge in Santa Ana.
John Salgado was convicted of two counts each of attempted murder, assault with a semiautomatic firearm and single counts each of carrying a loaded firearm in public, shooting at a vehicle, and a prohibited person owning ammunition and two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon, all felonies.
Jurors, who deliberated last Friday and this Thursday morning, also found true sentencing enhancements for the discharge of a firearm, attempted premeditated murder, and gang activity.
A mistrial was declared earlier this year when the laws changed regarding gang crimes, so a new jury had to be sworn in and Salgado was convicted in the retrial.
Salgado is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 19.
Salgado was convicted of firing on Jorge Lopez, an auto body shop owner, and his then-16-year-old son about 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2017, at 1909 W. Myrtle St., Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephen Cornwell said.
The Lopez family had dinner with a friend at that address earlier that evening before Jorge Lopez went to pick up his son, Harold, who was over at his girlfriend’s home, Cornwell said.
Harold Lopez, who had his learner’s permit, was driving the family’s Mini-Cooper when they returned to 1909 W. Myrtle St. and double parked.
Salgado, who was wearing a GPS device because he was on parole, approached them and said, “Where are you from,” a common challenge from gang members, Cornwell said.
“He pulled a gun from his waistband and racked the slide as he walked toward Harold and Jorge,” Cornwell said in the first trial.
“Harold immediately hit the gas,” Cornwell said.
Their assailant got off three rounds, which struck the rear window of the car, the prosecutor said.
Jorge Lopez told police the attacker had a “unique tattoo under his eye,” Cornwell said.
Jorge and Harold Lopez picked Salgado out of a photo lineup after police added a tattoo for all of the suspects in the mug shots, Cornwell said.
The host of the party also picked Salgado out of a photo lineup after seeing him run from the scene, Cornwell said.
The GPS device records show Salgado was at the scene of the shooting, Cornwell said.
Salgado was arrested Jan. 24, 2017, after police attempted to pull him over and he led the officers on a short pursuit, Cornwell said. During the pursuit Salgado threw the gun used in the shooting out of the window, the prosecutor added.
Defense attorney Fred Fascenelli accused law enforcement of “confirmation bias,” and failing to ask the victims what sort of gang sign their attacker used before he opened fire.
Harold Lopez told police the shooter had a “full head of hair,” Fascenelli said in the first trial.
“Enough to comb it over,” Fascenelli said. “Mr. Salgado doesn’t grow much hair at the top of his head — and the evidence will show he was not growing much hair then either.”
The defense attorney said his client is “guilty of having a firearm and being a gang member in possession of a firearm,” but he’s innocent of all the other charges.
Salgado pleaded guilty in January 2007 to robbery and assault with a deadly weapon and admitted a sentencing enhancement for gang activity and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to court records.