BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern County District Attorney’s Office said two Wasco gang members have been convicted of murder and face life without parole in the killing of a wrongfully targeted man.
On April 15, a jury found Vicente Ibarra and Freddie Santa Cruz guilty of first-degree murder with a special circumstance in the shooting death of 43-year-old Ismael Ramirez in 2016, the DA’s office said.
Prosecutors said Ibarra and Santa Cruz committed three separate shootings and the killing of Ramirez beginning in late 2015.
Trial prosecutors said Ibarra and Santa Cruz intended to kill a reformed gang member. On Dec. 29, 2015, Ibarra, as a member of the Varrio Wasco Rifas gang, arrived at the home of the reformed gang member’s mother and fired a 9mm handgun missing his target, but striking the home several times.
Two days later, on New Year’s Eve 2015, Ibarra and Santa Cruz along with other members of the gang went to shoot and kill the reformed gang member. They arrived at Ramirez’s home and Ibarra and Santa Cruz shot at Ramirez as he was bringing in groceries from his vehicle. Ramirez was wrongfully identified as their intended target.
Ramirez was struck multiple times by shotgun and handgun rounds and died of his wounds three days later at Kern Medical.
Immediately after that shooting, Ibarra and Santa Cruz drove to another Wasco home and committed another shooting, hitting a home and a vehicle parked in the driveway, prosecutors said.
Evidence left at the three shootings matched a 9mm handgun Ibarra was carrying, prosecutors said.
“Gang violence frequently victimizes innocent bystanders and endangers entire communities, which is why effective prosecution of gang-related crime continues to be a priority,” Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said in a statement.
“Kern County is undoubtedly safer because of the apprehension and conviction of these two killers.”
Sentencing is scheduled for June 17. Ibarra and Santa Cruz both face maximum life sentences without the possibility of parole.