The verdict handed down by a jury in the Bronx Criminal Court gave some people in Co-op City a sense of closure.
Paulino Valenzuela was convicted of second degree murder on Monday, April 18, for shooting up the offices of RiverBay Corp. in 2007, where he had once been employed.
Valenzuela, who also lived in Co-op City, was fired by RiverBay Corp. in 2007 for a series of transgressions, and expressed his frustration that August by unleashing a fuselage of bullets at his former workplace.
He killed Audley Bent, hit Filip Zadrima and hit Sander Palaj, who is now a quadriplegic. All three men worked with Valenzuela at RiverBay Corp.
Vernon Cooper, general manager of RiverBay Corp. said the news of the conviction was very welcome.
“I’m ecstatic, myself, about the verdict, because it was a very traumatic experience for all that were involved,” Cooper said. “The individuals that were shot, the employees and members of our community all felt at risk that day.’
Cooper has spent much of the past four years consoling and counseling members of Valenzuela’s victim’s families.
“I’m certain that the verdict is something that’s been discussed in Co-op City and everyone is elated,” he said. “It’s good to have closure.”
Valenzuela, 48, had been belligerent with his employer, late to work and reportedly showed up intoxicated, all of which contributed to his dismissal from RiverBay Corp.
After being let go, he made threats to people at his former workplace, but since he lived in Co-op City, there was not much that could be done to keep him away.
“To look out for him, that’s hard to do,” Cooper said. “Not to mention the fact that he lived here, clearly he can say he had a reason to be here.”
Valenzuela will be sentenced on Thursday, May 5 and faces 25 years to life in prison. Aside from the murder charge, Valenzuela was also found guilty of first degree assault, attempted murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
To Cooper, Co-op City and the world will be better places without Valenzuela as a free man.
“It’s been a very horrendous situation,” he said. “It was senseless.”