Marijuana thief shot in Fresno during escape

FRESNO, Calif.

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The huge pot garden is clearly visible from the street. Some of the plants extend a couple feet over a six-foot fence and there are hundreds more on the other side of the fence. Police say that's what enticed a group of people into what turned out to be a violent robbery attempt.

Warning signs on the fence weren't as much of a deterrent as the tall pot plants were an attraction for thieves at the central Fresno home. But as they took away plants from the backyard, through a broken fence and razor wire, someone inside came out.

Police say the resident shot into their pickup truck, hitting a 40-year-old man in the head. Minutes later, across the street at Roeding Park, a woman flagged down a City of Fresno sanitation worker.

"She just said her friend had been shot," said the worker, John Maxwell. "It's kind of weird she came here instead of driving this gentleman to the hospital, but she was probably a little bit scared herself."

Police investigators collected evidence from the pickup truck she drove into the park. Its passenger side window was shot out and a bullet hit the front windshield as well.

Investigators say it looks like the thieves were running away when bullets rang out. They also say the residents had medical marijuana cards allowing them to grow hundreds of pot plants, but they were slightly over the limit. They probably won't get in trouble for that.

Even though the resident took aim at thieves who were on his property, he could still face felony charges -- up to murder if the victim dies.

"You have a right to protect yourself on your property if you fear your life is in danger," said ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "It's pretty clear in this case, the person doing the shooting didn't think his life was in danger, especially if they're driving away in a pickup truck."

Neighbors say the marijuana garden was trouble waiting to happen, right in their backyards.

"I get worried because I knew something was going to happen right here because all people can see it on the street," said next-door neighbor Javier Villasenor.

The shooting victim was in critical condition Wednesday evening. Officers also detained the woman who drove him to the park, but they're still looking for three more people who were with them. Police have the shooter in custody, but he's not yet charged with any crime.

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