Hero at age 8 for saving drowning child, Calif. man now faces life in prison for gang shooting

As a little boy, Ivan Ramirez was honored as a hometown hero for saving a drowning peer. Now, 13 years later, a jury has convicted the Fresno gang member for his role in a drive-by shooting.

Ramirez, 21, was found guilty Tuesday of shooting at an inhabited house, being a felon with a gun and participating in a gang. He faces a possible life prison term when he's sentenced on Aug. 31.

"They gave Ivan a fair shake," Ramirez's defense attorney Mark Broughton said after the jurors' ruling. "Ivan is a good kid who made a stupid choice."

Deputy District Attorney Chris Walsh, said jurors told him, "it wasn't an easy decision, but they felt it was the right thing to do."

Prosecutors say Ramirez, a Sureno gang member, got into a confrontation with two members of the rival Norteno gang on Jan. 24 outside a store in Reedley. Ramirez later fired two rounds at a home where he believed the rivals lived because he apparently felt disrespected.

Broughton said there was no evidence that a bullet struck the home.

In 1997, Ramirez was 8 when he and three other children formed a human chain to pull 6-year-old Kasee Yang from a canal in southeast Fresno. Civic leaders praised the rescuers. Ramirez was even given certificates from then-Assembly Member Cruz Bustamante and City Council Member Sal Quintero.

But four years later, Ramirez joined a gang. In 2006, he was sent to the California Youth Authority for a similar gang shooting.


Information from: The Fresno Bee, http://www.fresnobee.com