Shooter of two teens claims he was defending friends, sentenced to 1 year behind bars
March 17, 2023 Updated Fri., March 17, 2023 at 9:22 p.m.
A 26-year-old man was sentenced Friday to one year behind bars for shooting two teens last summer during a large fight at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex in northwest Spokane.
As part of an agreement, Jordan Genzlinger pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of second-degree assault for injuring the children, who were 15 and 16 at the time. The prosecution and defense recommended the sentence, which was the low end of the standard sentencing range.
Benjamin Hartnett, Genzlinger’s attorney, said his client defended his friends who were attacked by multiple people. If Genzlinger had not intervened, the attack likely would have continued, Hartnett said.
“I truly believe that if I didn’t fire my gun, something worse could have happened,” Genzlinger told Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno, who sentenced Genzlinger on Friday.
Richard Whaley, a Spokane County deputy prosecutor handling the case, said the two teens are in “good health,” with one of them battling nerve damage in one hand from the shooting.
According to court documents, police responded around 12:45 a.m. June 29 to the shooting. Officers found two teens who were shot and multiple witnesses. Officers also found spent shell casings, a live round of ammunition, a magazine from a firearm and a vehicle that was struck with a bullet.
Witnesses told police an argument between one of Genzlinger’s friends and another person escalated into multiple people fighting. Genzlinger then fired into the group of people fighting.
Hartnett said Genzlinger and his friends were in the parking lot of the sports complex when a large group of people showed up. He said the interactions were cordial at first but then the group started smashing alcohol bottles near cars, which is “kind of what changed things,” Hartnett said.
He said one of Genzlinger’s friends and another man from the group started arguing and got into a fight “when it all went down.” Hartnett told the court two of Genzlinger’s friends were being “pummeled” by several people. Genzlinger was also attacked, he said.
Genzlinger then fired shots and took one of his friends, who missed weeks of work because of injuries sustained in the fight, to the hospital, according to Hartnett.
In a statement to the court, Genzlinger apologized to the shot teens, who did not appear to be in the courtroom. He said he hoped their recovery went as smoothly as possible.
Genzlinger said he has always been a protective person. He said he had lost his mother the year before the shooting and could not think of losing his friend while he was being beat up at the sports complex.
Genzlinger said he was attacked by a few people in 2018 at a Spokane park, which left him with a broken eye socket and broken nose.
Moreno said Genzlinger does not have a criminal record and appeared remorseful.
Genzlinger was given credit for the roughly eight months he’s served in jail, which means he has about four months left if he serves the entirety of his 12-month sentence. Genzlinger will serve 18 months of community custody when he is released from prison.
Genzlinger was arrested in Arkansas a couple weeks after the shooting before being extradited to the Spokane County Jail.
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