FARGO — A Moorhead man was sentenced Monday, Jan. 13, to 35 years in prison for the fatal drive-by shooting of 20-year-old Gabriel Perez outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Fargo.
The sentence angered Perez's family members who shouted obscenities at the shooter, 45-year-old Miguel Jay Cooley, as they left the courtroom. Cooley pleaded guilty in August to a Class AA felony count of intentional murder in Cass County District Court.
Monday's sentence of 35 years (50 years in prison with 15 years suspended) was a joint recommendation by the prosecution and defense that the judge went along with. Cooley faced a maximum possible sentence of life in prison without the chance of parole.
The shooting happened about 5:20 a.m. on Sept. 23, 2018. Cooley drove his vehicle to the McDonald’s and fired a gun at Perez, who was sitting on a curb, according to court documents and information provided in court hearings.
Prosecutors have said Cooley fired three rounds at Perez and that the medical examiner found Perez had been struck three times.
Court records show investigators believed Cooley became jealous over a possible relationship between his wife, Izetta Cooley, and Perez. But Izetta Cooley previously denied an affair to The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.