Three sentenced for 2021 drive-by shooting that injured 10-year-old boy

A driver and shooter have been sentenced to prison for a September 2021 drive-by shooting that injured a man and his 10-year-old nephew in east Salem, joining a second shooter who pleaded guilty last year.

Three self-confessed members of the 18th Street gang at the time drove past a house near the North Lancaster neighborhood and fired at two men in what prosecutors described as a random attack. A child playing with his brother inside the house was wounded by a stray bullet.

Alejandro Ramirez Jr., 22, and Victor A. Ventura-Robles, 21, both fired shots that day while riding in a Dodge Challenger driven by Gabriel Herrera, 22.

Ramirez, a Dallas resident, pleaded guilty on April 15 in Marion County Circuit Court to two counts of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault. 

He was sentenced to 20 years in state prison with three years of post-prison supervision. Prosecutors dismissed additional charges of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and three counts of unlawful use of a weapon as part of his plea deal.

His sentence is identical to Ventura Robles, of Salem, who took the same deal a year earlier.

Unlike the two shooters, Herrera took his case to trial. Marion County Circuit Judge Audrey Broyles found him guilty of three counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and three counts of unlawful use of a weapon.

The judge sentenced Herrera on May 17 to 18 years in prison.

All three men received credit for time served.

Marion County prosecutors provided an account of the shooting in a written memorandum and during sentencing hearings.

Daytime gunfire

Around 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, a man was washing his car in his driveway on Northeast Tide Court near Northeast Surfwood Drive.

His brother was a half-mile away returning from the grocery store, prepping for a barbeque, when Herrera drove past him, turned around and began chasing him. 

“There’s no evidence as to why,” Broyles said during the driver’s sentencing hearing. “You’re hell bent on finding him for whatever reason, I don’t know, except that you were just looking for trouble, looking for a fight.”

The man arrived at the house, and Herrera drove past it. His two passengers pulled out guns, including one with a high-capacity drum magazine, and fired at the men in the driveway, Broyles said. One of the victims was struck in his ankle.

Herrera drove to the end of a cul-de-sac before turning around and braking as he passed the house the second time. Ramirez and Ventura-Robles again fired shots at the two men.

Prosecutors said Herrera, the driver, also aimed his own gun through the front passenger window. His gun was never recovered.

At least 19 shots were fired in total between the two shootings.

The driver and shooters did not know the victims in the driveway. Police reports appeared to show that the men driving by mistakenly thought they knew the others. 

Four other people were inside the house, including two children. A 10-year-old boy was playing with his younger brother in their room when a bullet tore through his arm and into his chest.
Another bullet went through a bedroom, a TV in the living room and into a second bedroom.

The children’s mother rushed to grab them, took them to a bathroom to protect them from any more gunfire and called an ambulance.

Meanwhile, the victim outside who wasn’t hit by a bullet began driving his injured brother to the hospital. On the way, they were “intercepted by law enforcement” who helped them get there quicker, Marion County Deputy District Attorney Kylie Kuhns said during a sentencing hearing.

They had no idea at the time that the child had been injured.

There was no evidence that the victims were involved in any gang. Kuhns said the only explanation she could think of for the shooting was that the men in the car may have felt slighted by the way that one of the victims looked back at them when they drove by the first time.

“This was not rival gangs getting revenge or retaliation after a prior incident,” She wrote in her memorandum. “This was not a feud among friends or acquaintances. This was a completely unprovoked attack.”

Lasting impacts

The gunfire left the young boy with a claw hand deformity and unable to use his right hand for some time. He struggled when he returned to school and eventually switched to online classes.

“He could no longer grip a pencil. He had trouble with classroom assignments that required writing. He had difficulty playing with friends,” Kuhns wrote.

The boy continued to suffer paralysis in his arm 18 months after the shooting. He went through occupational therapy for over a year to regain use of his hand. 

His injured uncle continues to suffer pain with every step he takes due to the bullet that remains lodged in his ankle. 

A laborer by trade, often in construction, he is now unable to do such work. He walks with a limp and is unable to stand for long periods of time.

Both victims also now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. They reported that they prefer to stay alone in their rooms, avoiding groups and loud noises.

The judge addressed the victims during a March 2023 sentencing hearing.

“I’m very sorry that this happened to you,” Broyles said. “You should be able to feel comfortable in your neighborhood, in your home certainly, and particularly at a time of day where people are just minding their own business. It’s completely unacceptable.”

Ventura-Robles declined to speak during that hearing.

Ramirez at his sentencing this past April apologized to the boy “for the mental, physical, emotional trauma that my actions have caused.”

The judge pressed for more information about why Ramirez shot at the victims. “No comment,” he responded.

Herrera, the driver, also apologized to the boy and his mother at his hearing a month later.

He said he would never wish harm on a child and hopes the boy can one day forgive him and the two men who fired shots that day. He said he will never forget listening to the mother’s 911 call after the shootings and thinking of his own daughter and her mother.

“I have to live with this for the rest of my life,” he said.

Compared with the two shooters, Broyles said that Herrera was the only one who made any statements that appeared genuine or remorseful. But she said the incident could have easily been a murder instead of an attempted murder.

“Looking back and saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t intend for that to happen.’ You can’t do that,” Broyles said. “Unfortunately, you got involved in this gang mentality where you do things together that you might not do as your own person.”

She said Herrera will still be young when he gets out of prison. “I hope that you just discard any of that. That is nothing but tragedy for you and further incarceration,” she said. “You can belong in a prosocial, healthy way with good people. Don’t associate with that, because look what happened.”


Man sentenced to 20 years for 2021 shooting that injured two

Third man arrested for role in September northeast Salem shooting

Two arrested, 10-year-old hospitalized after daytime shooting Saturday

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.