14-Year-Old Sentenced in Shooting

Times Staff Writer

A 14-year-old who police said was a Pacoima gang member was sentenced to the California Youth Authority on Monday for his part in a drive-by shooting outside a junior high school in May that left two youths wounded.

The boy, whose name was withheld because he is a minor, pleaded guilty June 9 to charges of attempted murder and assault with a firearm in the May 3 shooting of Francisco Plascencia and Hugo Lopez, both 14. Plascencia was shot in the chest and seriously injured and Lopez was shot in the knee. Both have recovered, Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Bilus said.

According to police reports, the boy and his 16-year-old brother drove by a group of students leaving Olive Vista Junior High School about 3:10 p.m. and fired into the crowd. The 14-year-old was the gunman, investigators said. His older brother, who police called "a gang associate," is to be tried as an adult in San Fernando Superior Court.

Sylmar Juvenile Court Commissioner Michael G. Price ruled that the boy should be sent to California Youth Authority because the crime endangered students in a crowd outside the school. He also noted that the youth had been caught carrying a gun at school a few weeks before the shooting.

"I hesitate to send a minor who's just turned 14 and has no record to the Youth Authority, but . . . the safety of the community depends on his going to Youth Authority," Price said. "I just don't see any alternative."

The youth's parents denied that he had a gun at school, saying instead that he had a realistic-looking toy. They urged their son's attorney to appeal the ruling.

"It's not a fair decision," his father said. "We have to appeal this. We're not going to let it go."

The boy's attorney, Jerome D. Williams, told the court that his client "realized he made a serious mistake in this matter."

Williams asked that the boy be entrusted to the care of his parents, who hoped to move out of the area and away from the influence of gangs. That request was denied.

Under state law, a minor sentenced to California Youth Authority receives yearly progress reports and can serve any length of time but cannot be held after he turns 25. Although sentences vary from case to case, both prosecutor and defense attorney estimated that the boy would serve at least four years.

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