San Diego

Convicted Gunman in 2001 Santana High Shooting Wants Life Sentence Commuted

Brian Zuckor, 14, and Randy Gordon, 17 were killed in the shooting on campus on March 5, 2001.

Seventeen years after the deadly school shooting at Santana High School, the convicted gunman is asking the governor for a sentence commutation.

On March 5, 2001, Peter Ruiz Jr. was 23 years old and three weeks into his job as a security guard at the Santee school. That morning, then 15-year-old Charles Andy Williams opened fire on campus and killed two people and wounding 13 others, including Ruiz.

Las Thursday, Ruiz got a call he never expected. It was the District Attorney's office, bringing him back 17 years.

“It’s just not something you expect to hear, you know, on any day really,” Ruiz said, describing his reaction to the DA’s call letting him know that Williams, now 32, had appealed to the governor to have his 50 years to life sentence commuted.

NBC 7's Danny Freeman spoke to two survivors of the shooting who were made aware of the gunman's request through a call from the District Attorney's office.

Ruiz can never forget March 5, 2001, but if he somehow does he has scars and bullet fragments that will serve as lifetime reminders.

“One went in and out my shoulder blade, one went out the side and the third one's still lodged in my back,” he said.

The DA also called shooting survivor Barry Gibson, who like Ruiz also has a bullet from that day still in his leg.

Gibson was a senior student when Williams shot him. Now 36, he doesn’t think Williams’ age at the time of the crime should be a factor the governor considers when looking at his commutation appeal.

“What is that telling everybody else? That it's OK because you're young? That's not something that's good because your actions have consequences,” Gibson said.

Gibson says he plans on writing a letter to the governor against Williams' commutation request.

Ruiz said letting Williams out of prison would be giving him an opportunity his victims never had.

“I mean, yea -- scars, memories, nightmares, whatever. But again, those are things that will never go away. Him coming out getting a second chance on life, that's something none of us are ever gonna get,’ he said.

The DA’s office said it is adamantly opposed to Williams’ petition. The governor's office said it does not comment on individual applications.

A new law signed by the governor and set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2019, will prohibit 14 and 15-year-olds from being tried as adults for some crimes in California.

Longtime public defender Mary Ellen Attridge says the change in the law means that people convicted as 14 and 15-year-olds should be granted commutation.

"The law now recognizes that juvenile defendants are differently situated because of their brain chemistry, and I think those things being taken into account mean that those individuals should get a commutation of their sentence to the lesser sentence, and I think they are all subject to release.

NBC 7 reached out to the governor's office for a copy of Williams' commutation application, but the office said those documents are only released when a commutation is granted.

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