A documented gang member was sentenced to 80 years to life in state prison for the 2011 killing of a man found shot dead outside a San Bernardino elementary school, officials said Monday.
San Bernardino resident Juan Fuentes, 26, was sentenced on Friday after being found guilty in March 2014 of one count of murder in the death of 25-year-old Roy Craddock, according to a statement from the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. Fuentes, in addition to being a gang member, had a prior strike conviction.
Craddock’s body was found with six close-range gunshot wounds to the head near the entrance of Muscoy Elementary School on Nov. 4, 2011, prosecutors said.
It was a rainy Friday morning, and a school custodian happened upon the body and alerted authorities to the slaying not long before classes began, according to the DA’s statement. Craddock was a lifelong Muscoy resident and had attended the school himself.
Detectives who interviewed Craddock’s family learned he had called to ask for a ride from near the school just after 11 p.m. the night before. But despite immediately driving to pick him up, Craddock was nowhere to be found and not responding to repeated phone calls, officials said.
Surveillance video shows the victim walking past the front of the school at 11:19 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2011. He then doubled back toward the flagpole in front of the school, where it appeared two individuals had caught his attention, the DA’s office said.
A shooting then occurred and was also caught on surveillance, but the dark, shadowy footage only shows a bare outline of what happened, according to Deputy District Attorney Jill Gregory, who prosecuted the case.
“We do not understand how another human being, who bleeds just as we do, could be so quick to pull the trigger and take the life, the very last breath, last drop of blood from the most kind-hearted and loving human being to walk this earth,” Craddock’s family told the judge ahead of Fuentes’ sentencing, according to the DA’s statement. “While we were standing over his casket waiting for him to wake up, give us a hug and tell us it was just a dream, his body never moved. After a while, we were all forced to realize that we were living in a nightmare.”
Sheriff’s detectives investigated the crime for about a month before questioning Fuentes, who was then 20 years old.
Fuentes later told investigators he shot Craddock, but claimed it was in self-defense.
However, the surveillance footage showed Fuentes and Craddock had interacted for less than 40 seconds before Craddock was shot, casting doubt on Fuentes’ claim.