A Kern County Superior Court jury convicted a Rosamond man March 26 of multiple charges including attempted murder of a police officer in an incident in which the man was found to have fired 45 shots over the course of several hours.
Benjamin Avalos, 20, was found guilty of four counts of attempted murder on a peace officer with personal discharge of a firearm, four counts of assault on a peace officer, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, negligent discharge of a firearm and resisting arrest.
According to Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, the trial conviction was a "significant case."
The jury announced its verdict March 26. However, a separate trial regarding Avalos’ prior convictions was held March 30. The result of the court trial had a substantial impact on Avalos’ potential sentence.
According to a district attorney's news release, on June 22, 2020, deputies and officers from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol were dispatched to Rosamond on reports of an active shooter situation in which Avalos was found firing a gun inside and outside a home.
Several other residents who live in the surrounding neighborhood fled and called 911, reporting seeing Avalos in the driveway of a residence firing multiple shots from a semi-automatic handgun.
Avalos failed to respond to orders from officers to surrender, and fired multiple rounds at the responding officers, according to the DA's news release. Avalos eventually put down his firearm, but continued to refuse orders to surrender and was "hostile with law enforcement," the DA's news release said.
The DA's release went on to say sheriff's deputies deployed a department-issued Taser to subdue and apprehend Avalos.
Avalos was arrested without substantial injuries. After the incident, as Avalos was being medically cleared, he made his intentions clear to the deputy transporting him, stating, “If I ever see you (expletive) again, I’m going to shoot every one of you,” according to the DA's news release.
The court also found true that Avalos had a prior serious felony conviction for residential burglary arising out of New Mexico in 2015, a prior strike offense that may increase Avalos’ ultimate sentence.
District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said in the news release: “Deputies and officers in the field are tasked with protecting public safety, even when doing so puts them in mortal danger. Officers and deputies who respond to violent threats to the community deserve not only our appreciation for their efforts to end violent situations, but also the protection that comes with a conviction and an appropriate sentence for those who attempt to murder them simply doing their jobs.”
Sentencing is scheduled for April 28 before Superior Court Judge David Zulfa. Avalos faces a potential sentence in excess of 200 years to life.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Christine Antonios.