‘They were waiting for him’: Man shot, girlfriend killed following his release from Fresno County jail after murder acquittal


A man injured in a shooting Tuesday evening had been released from Fresno County Jail less than an hour earlier, after his acquittal on a first-degree murder charge, according to his attorney and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.

Michael Garcia is seen in a photo obtained by KGPE.
Michael Garcia is seen in a photo obtained by KGPE.

Michael Garcia was taken from the scene to the hospital following the shooting on Highway 180, according to KTLA sister station KGPE in Fresno.

The man’s attorney, Eric Castellon, said the man’s girlfriend — 21-year-old Ernestine Thomas — was killed in the incident.

“She had been there the entire trial, she’d been there for Mr. Garcia. She was very excited to have her life begin with Mr. Garcia,” said Castellon.

Garcia was charged with first-degree murder following an incident in 2019. The not-guilty verdict was reached around 3 p.m. Tuesday and jail records show Garcia was released from Fresno County Jail at 9:43 p.m. Tuesday.

The California Highway Patrol said the shooting took place around 10:30 p.m. along westbound Highway 180, east of Highway 99.

“It’s clear they were waiting for him,” said Castellon. “From what I’ve been informed, it was very clear they were waiting for him outside the jail.”

The investigation into the fatal shooting is ongoing. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Fresno Area CHP Office at 559-262-0400.

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