The Columbian / Associated Press

Man admits shooting to protect marijuana grow

PASCO – A 24-year-old Pasco man has admitted he was protecting a backyard marijuana grow when he fired at a 16-year-old boy who reached over the fence to steal some plants.

Pedro Orta-Zuniga pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He faces at least five years in prison.

Police were called to a local hospital Oct. 1 when a boy arrived with a gunshot wound in the arm.

The teen told officers he and a friend spotted marijuana plants in a Pasco yard and wanted to steal it. When the teen reached over the fence, a man on the other side fired multiple shots.

Officers went to the home and found Orta-Zuniga hiding amid the growing area. They also found a rifle, a pistol and bullet holes in the fence.

Orta-Zuniga said he slept in the yard with the guns to protect about 15 marijuana plants from thieves.