Man gets 85 years to life for gang-related slaying

Crime Watch

UPDATE (9/1): Lee was sentenced Wednesday to 85 years to life in prison, according to court records.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Kern County jury on Wednesday convicted a man of murder in a gang-related shooting that took place at a smoke shop last year.

William Blowheart Lee, 34, was found guilty of second-degree murder, shooting at an occupied building and gun-related charges and enhancements in the killing of 49-year-old Jerry Tibbs Jr., prosecutors said in a news release.

He faces more than 50 years to life at his Aug. 4 sentencing hearing.

Lee, reputedly a dropout member of the Country Boy Crips, became involved in an altercation with Tibbs and other members of the rival East Side Crips in the days before the shooting, prosecutors said.

Lee obtained a gun and on June 3, 2020, approached a smoke shop in the 700 block of Kentucky Street affiliated with the East Side Crips where Tibbs worked as security. He fired five rounds into the glass front door of the shop, one of them striking Tibbs in the chest, killing him, prosecutors said.

“The cycle of gang violence that plagues our community and drives up homicide rates is fueled by retaliatory shootings similar to what occurred in this case,” District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said in the release. “Gun violence will not be tolerated as a means to settle disputes between current or former gang members.”

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