BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A local man has been acquitted of all charges involving a shooting outside a hookah lounge in central Bakersfield.
The jury ruled that surveillance video proved that Thomas Palenzuela acted in self-defense when he fired back at a group of rival gang members who ambushed him at the Hookah Lounge on California Avenue last year.
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All five felony counts were dropped in that case, however, he was found guilty of a separate shooting that happened eight days later near Kern Medical Center.
Investigators said he got into an argument with his neighbors and opened fire.
"Mr. Palenzuela threatened both of them with a handgun. He assaulted the father with the handgun, struck him with it and then started to shoot at the son. The father jumped in the way of the bullet and got hit in the arm while his son was running away," said Ken Russels, Deputy District Attorney.
"He's remorseful over the actions from the east Bakersfield shooting and very disappointed that his behavior was that, that his choice was that and I agree with him, bad choices can lead to a lot of time in prison," said Fred Gagliardini, Palenzuela's Defense Attorney.
Palenzuela was found guilty of six felony charges including two counts of attempted murder.
He was sentenced to 53 years in prison. He has to spend a minimum of 25 years behind bars before he is eligible for parole.
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