DA drops charges against defendant in Oceano Dunes shooting case

Francisco Orozco

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow announced Wednesday he is dropping charges against an Oakland man accused of shooting into a crowd of people gathered at the Oceano Dunes in 2019, an incident that resulted in five people being wounded.

The DA’s office says an inability to match DNA found on a pair of guns to the defendant, as well as the key witness refusing to testify, left prosecutors unable to prove the charges against Francisco Orozco, 20, beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Shortly before midnight on May 4, 2019, shots were fired into a crowd at an unpermitted concert taking place at the Oceano Dunes. About 1,000 people from the Oakland area were in attendance at the concert. 

Bullets struck and wounded five individuals, each of whom were hospitalized but survived. Some of the victims needed to undergo surgery and received treatment in an intensive care unit.

The victims indicated they did not believe they had been targeted, according to the DA’s office. Another individual, who was not struck, said he believed he had been the target of the shooting.

Investigators believe several individuals may have fired guns during the incident, though initially law enforcement officers claimed Francisco Orozco was the lone gunman. One witness identified Orozco as a shooter, but the individual has refused to cooperate with prosecutors and testify at trial.

Forensics workers conducted DNA testing on two firearms believed to have been used in the shooting. The results excluded Orozco as a match to DNA found on both guns. 

“The district attorney’s office reviews all cases submitted for filing in light of our ethical duty to first seek the truth and to pursue only those cases which can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” Dow said in a statement. “When new evidence is discovered that creates reasonable doubt as to the guilt of an accused or where the admissible evidence changes so that guilt can no longer be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, it is our obligation to forego prosecution.”

Following the shooting, sheriff’s deputies tracked and arrested Orozco, whom prosecutors later charged with one count of attempted murder and five counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm. Investigators did not find Orozco in possession of a gun.

During a preliminary hearing, Deputy James Silverstein testified that the alleged target of the shooting said he saw Orozco fire the gun in his direction from the door of a trailer about 50 yards north of the concert area. The shots missed him.

The alleged target said he knew Orozco as “Gordo” and that they went to the same high school in Oakland, Silverstein testified. The man said he had two past incidents with Orozco, including one in which Orozco pulled a handgun on him.

Additionally, the witness told investigators that following the shooting, Orozco handed the gun to someone in his group, which consisted of members of the Northern California gang Nortenos. 

Deputy Ian McFarland testified that, after the shooting, he saw Orozco emerge out of the dark from behind a trailer in an area that had already been cordoned off by officers. 

McFarland told Orozco to move along. The deputy then heard the sound of the racking of the slide of a semiautomatic handgun, he testified. 

The victims of the shooting did not see who shot them, a district attorney’s office investigator testified.

Guy Galambos, Orozco’s attorney, argued his client was not involved in the shooting and was misidentified by a witness.

The DA’s office says it has provided support to victims of the shooting, including referral to outside resources and assistance in applying to the California Victim Compensating Board for payment of medical treatment, mental health counseling or other costs related to the incident. 

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