19-year-old will be tried on murder charges
A 19-year-old suspected gang member will be tried on murder and attempted murder charges for allegedly shooting a 31-yearold father of five to death last year and injuring another man, a Fresno County Superior Court judge decided Friday.
Superior Court Judge Kent Hamlin had strong words for Eliseo Orozco, calling him a wannabe “bad boy” for aiming his hand gun sideways, as he squeezed off at least six shots at a car driven by the victim, Juan Rangel, who was with his cousin Luis Rangel.
After two days of testimony, Hamlin said it was clear Orozco was the shooter that summer night on June 28. “We know who shot the gun and we know what he was trying to do,” Hamlin said.
Rangel died at the scene and his cousin, Luis Rangel, 18, was taken to Community Regional Medical Center where he was treated and later released.
Rangel’s family members exhaled in relief as Hamlin issued his ruling Friday afternoon. During the hearing, some of the family wore shirts that said “Justice for Juan” and “Faith Hope and Love.” Extra sheriff’s deputies were at the hearing to ensure there weren’t any problems between the families of the defendant and victim.
Rangel’s wife, Angelica, admitted her husband had previously been associated with the Norteño gang, but left that lifestyle more than 20 years ago. They were both raising their five children and were living in the Lake Tahoe area for years, before returning to Fresno in March last year for family reasons.
“When we moved back we even lived on the other side of town, to stay away from all that stuff,” she said.
Detectives testified that on the day Rangel was shot he had returned to his old neighborhood to pick up a car jack from his father’s house. As he and his cousin were driving back, they came across several Sureño gang members, including Orozco, who were hanging out in front of the Frank H. Ball park on Mayor Street.
Detectives and witnesses said Orozco spotted Rangel and his cousin driving by the park.
Det. Raul Diaz testified that one of the witnesses saw Orozco rush into the street, pull a handgun from his waistband and begin firing at the vehicle.
The defendant’s father Eliseo Orozco Sr. testified under questioning from defense attorney Mark Siegel that his son couldn’t have been the shooter because he was home when it happened.
The elder Orozco said he was working on the roof of his home and his son was inside playing with his nephew. “He was right there with me,” the elder Orozco said. “He was going to help me lift the cooler onto the roof.”
Under cross examination by Deputy District Attorney Kelly Smith, the elder Orozco said he had only been on the roof for about 45 minutes to an hour. But during an interview with police after the shooting, he told detectives he had been on the roof from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
When asked by Smith about the discrepancy, the elder said he did not remember telling police how long he was on the roof.
Smith said the younger Orozco was well known to police and gang detectives as a member of the Sureño gang.
California Highway Patrol detective Felix Lara testified Friday the area around the park is considered Sureño territory. It’s also where police and gang detectives came to know Orozco as being connected to the gang.
Fresno police gang detectives said Orozco has been seen at the home of one of the gang’s leaders during what was described as a gang meeting.
On a separate occasion he was also found with several small bags of a white crystalline substance during a routine patrol of the area. And two years ago he was the victim of a shooting, although he provided very little information to investigators about who shot him.
Orozco’s next hearing is scheduled for May 14. If he is convicted of first degree murder, attempted murder, plus enhancements, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 82 years to life. He remains in custody in lieu of $2.9 million bail.