Nearly 5 Years After College Football Player Is Killed in East L.A. Gang Shooting, 3 Men Get More Than a Century in Prison
Three men were sentenced this week to more than 100 years each in state prison for the fatal gang shooting of a college student who was home visiting friends in East Los Angeles when he was gunned down in 2013.
Gabriel Soto, a 21-year-old who had played football at Garfield High, was reuniting with a few fellow high school athletes when the defendants opened fire on the gathering, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The shooters’ intended target was not Soto but a witness in an unrelated gang case.
Soto died at the hospital after the May 25, 2013, shooting, and another man was injured.
Soto has been on a football scholarship to Lincoln University in Missouri, where he was studying engineering, the county Sheriff’s Department said after the shooting.
When a $20,000 reward was announced in the case in November 2015, Soto’s coach at Garfield High talked about Soto’s ability to unite his teammates and defuse racial conflicts, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“He made a real effort to foster a community on our team,” coach Lynn Cain, the Times reported. “Those boys had many reasons to butt heads just by being from rival neighborhoods.”
Though Soto’s family repeatedly pleaded with the public to help identify the killers, the suspects weren’t arrested until more than 2 1/2 years after the shooting.
The three L.A. defendants – Jonathon Joseph Gonzalez, 30; Roque Solis, 32; and Anthony Aaron Gabriel, 27 – were convicted Jan. 30 of one count of first-degree murder, one count of premeditated attempted murder and four counts of assault with a firearm, the DA’s office said. Gonzalez was also convicted of convicted of one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.
On Monday, Gonzalez was sentenced to 173 years to life in state prison, while Solis received 129 years to life in prison, and 27-year-old Anthony Aaron Gabriel got 109 years to life.
The jury found all three suspects to have gang ties.
Gabriel was the getaway driver, while Gonzalez and Solis opened fire, the DA’s office said.