Social media-fueled attack leads to 6-year sentence
A Phoenix High School student who felt threatened by a message on Facebook was sentenced Monday to six years in prison for firing shotgun blasts into a house with seven people inside.
Felipe Villalba posted a photo of himself holding the shotgun to Snapchat, a social-media messaging app, and bragged about the shooting at school, investigators said.
Villalba pleaded guilty Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court to four counts of attempted first-degree assault.
Now 19 years old, he was 18 at the time of the December 2016 shooting into a manufactured home in Talent, according to an indictment.
"What started with talking on Facebook blew into an extremely violent and dangerous incident," said Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Marco Boccato. "It's purely by chance that no one was seriously hurt in this case."
According to an affidavit, Villalba said he had been taking Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, before the shooting. He grew paranoid about a Facebook post made by someone who lived in the house that they said they would "catch" him. Villalba decided to "catch" them first. He went to Talent and shot through a window into the house.
Three people, including a baby, were sleeping inside a bedroom that was hit with the shotgun blasts — some of which came within inches of their heads. One of the adults was struck in the arm and leg with shotgun pellets. Talent police found four spent shotgun shells outside the bedroom window, the affidavit said.
Villalba reportedly bragged at school that he was responsible for the shooting, and before the incident had posted a photo of himself with the shotgun on Snapchat. The shotgun belonged to Villalba's friend, the affidavit said.
Defense lawyer Larry Roloff said Villalba was highly intoxicated at the time of the shooting and had other issues. He said Villalba essentially had a breakdown.
Villalba declined to make a statement in court during his plea and sentencing hearing.
Attempted murder, second-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.