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Man Sentenced to 55 Years for 2009 Long Beach Road Drive-By

Francisco Salazar, the driver in the shooting that killed Jason Ventura of Aurora in 2009, was sentenced Wednesday afternoon.

An Aurora man was given a 55-year sentence for his role in a drive-by shooting in 2009, according to a release by Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis.

Francisco Salazar, 23, of Aurora, was found guilty for the murder of Jason Ventura and the attempted murder of Eduardo Gaytan and Jorge Ruiz. Salazar was convicted of one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder in May 2012 after a four-day jury trial. 

The drive-by shooting occurred in the early morning of Dec. 20, 2009, on Long Beach Road near Douglas Road, police said. A car driven by Salazar pulled up alongside another vehicle, and shots were fired. Jason Ventura of Aurora, the driver of the second car, was shot in the head and killed.

A passenger, Eduardo Gayton of Aurora, was injured in the shooting. A second passenger Jorge Ruiz of Aurora was not harmed.

Oswego Police stopped the car driven by Salazar minutes after the shooting occurred, Weis said. They recovered the murder weapon (a .45 caliber handgun), clothing linked to the crime, and gunshot residue on Salazar’s car, Weis said. Police also found 11 shell casings at the scene, Weis said.

Weis said evidence presented at trial indicated that Salazar is a member of the Latin Kings street gang, and this shooting was gang related. Jason Ventura, Weis said, was not a gang member, but “happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when the shooting occurred.”

At the sentencing hearing, three members Jason Ventura’s family gave emotional impact statements as to the horrific effects Salazar’s actions had on their lives, said Weis. 

Additionally, officers from the Aurora Police Department testified about Salazar’s prior felony convictions, including a felony gun possession charge for which Salazar was on probation at the time of the shooting.   

Judge John Barsanti handed down the 55-year prison sentence, 30 years for first-degree murder, 15 years for attempted first-degree murder of Gaytan and 10 years for attempted first-degree murder of Ruiz, each to be served consecutively.

Under Illinois law, Salazar will have to serve over 51 years before being eligible for mandatory supervised release.  

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