This Pasco man almost died in a gang-related shooting. He shot someone 3 months later

Girlfriend cradles victim after he was shot in Pasco

In this video shared with the Tri-City Herald, the girlfriend of Pasco shooting victim Victor M. Garcia cradles him after he was shot March 29, 2018.
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In this video shared with the Tri-City Herald, the girlfriend of Pasco shooting victim Victor M. Garcia cradles him after he was shot March 29, 2018.

A Pasco man who was nearly killed in a gang-related shooting is now headed to prison himself for shooting another man.

But he’ll face significantly less than the 23 years his attacker received for gunning him down months earlier.

Victor M. Garcia, 24, stopped his assault trial this week just as it was set to start by pleading guilty.

He now faces about 6 1/2 years in prison for the 2018 shooting at the Loyalty Inn in Pasco.

Garcia apparently recovered enough to go into the West Lewis Street motel on June 28, 2018, and shoot Frank Murillo IV for unknown reasons.

On Wednesday, Garcia opted to have a Franklin County Superior Court judge, instead of a jury, preside over his first-degree assault trial.

Then, before prosecutors could call their first witness, Garcia and his attorney informed Judge Joe Burrowes they had a change of plea.

In his written plea statement, Garcia said he had a gun in his possession, but noted “In Re Barr to additional elements” from the shooting.

That means he did not admit guilt but took a plea to a lesser substitute charge so he could receive the benefit of a deal.

Assault and gun possession

The guilty plea was to second-degree assault while armed with a deadly weapon and first-degree unlawful gun possession.

Garcia, a convicted felon, is not allowed to own or possess firearms.

Surveillance video from the Loyalty Inn showed a man walk into one of the buildings around 11 p.m. and go to a room, where he argued with someone at the door, according to court documents.

The suspect then removed something from his waistband with his right hand and extended his right arm into the room. He ran out of the building while placing something into his pants, documents said.

Murillo came out of the room a short time later and was holding his side as he walked to the front office for help.

He was shot in the right forearm, but the bullet continued into his right hip before stopping in his butt. He was treated at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

Murillo refused to cooperate with Pasco police, including naming the shooter.

Video footage shows suspect

Investigators searched Murillo’s room and found a single .380-caliber shell casing near the entrance, court documents said.

The suspect was seen in video footage wearing a black hat that shielded his face from cameras.

Police were able to match the shooter’s visible tattoos — lips on his neck and “MPS” on the back of his head just above the neck — with pictures of Garcia in a law enforcement database.

On Tuesday, defense attorney Shelley Ajax tried to ultimately get the case dismissed by arguing that police incorrectly identified her client when there are thousands of other people with similar lip tattoos. Her motion was denied, which sent the case to trial Wednesday.

Police and prosecutors did not release a motive behind the shooting.

Shooter was previously shot

The motel shooting came just three months after Garcia himself was shot by a longtime friend and left clinging to life.

His girlfriend told police at the time that Garcia — wounded in the back and stomach — was leaving the Mexican Pride Sureños, and had been talking with a friend when shot on March 29, 2018.

The shooter in that case, Daviel D. Canela, 24, was sentenced in April to 23 years in prison for attempted first-degree murder and second-degree unlawful gun possession. He was convicted last October by a Franklin County jury.

Garcia will be joining Canela in prison.

Garcia is looking at a sentencing range of six years and five months to 8 1/2 years. Sentencing is July 30.

He has a lengthy criminal history with convictions for criminal mischief with a deadly weapon, drug possession, drive-by shooting, illegal gun possession, burglary, taking a vehicle without permission and possessing a stolen vehicle.

Several of those crimes were committed while he was a teenager.

He still has an active case in Benton County Superior Court for first-degree unlawful gun possession. That 2018 case has an Aug. 12 trial date.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.