Santa Rosa student charged with attempted murder, 3 other felonies, in shooting
The Ridgway High School student suspected of shooting a classmate steps from their school this week, prompting a lockdown at the campus and two others, was charged with attempted murder and three additional felony charges during a hearing Friday at Sonoma County’s Juvenile Justice Center.
The severity of the charges filed against the teen, identified during the hearing as Jose Guillermo Santos-Buenrostro, 17, led prosecutors on Friday morning to request moving the case into adult court, a move that would lead to a harsher sentence if Santos- Buenrostro is found guilty of the crimes, Judge Kenneth Gnoss said.
Santos-Buenrostro was additionally charged with battery causing serious bodily injury, discharge of a firearm in a school zone and assault with a firearm during Friday’s hearing. Many of the charges carry enhancements that would add time to Santos-Buenrostro’s sentence if he’s convicted as an adult, Gnoss said.
A special hearing to determine whether Santos- Buenrostro should be tried as an adult or a juvenile will be scheduled at a later date, Gnoss said.
Santos-Buenrostro listened intently as Gnoss read the charges, as did several family members who attended Friday’s hearing, among them the teen’s mother and sister, his legal guardian, Gnoss said. The teen, dressed in a gray T-shirt and dark green sweatpants, was serious in his demeanor and spoke clearly when Gnoss asked him questions about his name and address. Relatives of Santos-Buenrostro declined to speak to a reporter after the hearing.
While California laws protect minors in juvenile court proceedings from being identified, Friday’s arraignment was open to the public.
“Given the charges that are before the court, this is an open hearing,” Gnoss said Friday morning.
The most serious charge, attempted murder, carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison if Santos-Buenrostro is found guilty in adult court, or until Santos-Buenrostro is 25 years old if he’s found guilty in the juvenile court system, Gnoss said.
For that count, prosecutors alleged Santos- Buenrostro intentionally shot at a 16-year-old on Tuesday, causing him great bodily injury, Gnoss said as he read from the felony complaint. The victim, another student at Ridgway High, was driven by a friend to a local hospital with two gunshot wounds and was released later that night, police said.
Police said both teens have ties with local gangs and said the shooting escalated a weekslong dispute between the two that included face-to-face confrontations outside the campus. The gunfire broke out at the edge of school grounds and was captured on surveillance video, as well as witnessed by some of the dozens of students headed to second period, the Santa Rosa Police Department said. Three campuses, Ridgway High School and adjacent Santa Rosa High and Santa Rosa Junior College, initiated 2½-hour-lockdowns soon after, affecting a combined 11,700 students.
Both the witnesses and the surveillance video led officers to suspect the gunman stashed the weapon in a backpack, which he put into a car that left the area, officers said. Officers also learned the suspect then calmly walked into a classroom that was under lockdown, where they took him into custody by about 10:30 p.m., police said.
The driver, another Ridgway student, was located by police hours later, though officers said they did not know whether the student knew what was in the bag when he left the campus or whether he purposely kept it from police.
Unspecified information led officers to the gun in question, a .32 caliber Ruger revolver that was reported stolen from a home in June 2016, the Police Department said. The gun was found more than 3 miles from campus in a row of bushes, police said.
Police officials said they are still investigating the student who left with the gun and that he has not been arrested.
Santos-Buenrostro is scheduled to return to court Wednesday to enter a plea in his case, though his defense attorney, James Loughborough, said it was unlikely his client would be ready to enter a plea by next week.
Gnoss ordered Santos- Buenrostro to remain in custody at Sonoma County’s juvenile hall at least until the next hearing, when Loughborough said he wanted to revisit the topic of his client’s detention.