PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Providence man convicted of shooting and killing his former girlfriend last year will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Derek Sheppard, 37, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder and carrying a pistol without a license.

Sheppard shot 50-year-old Bernadette Ortiz to death following an argument inside their Harold Street apartment back in February 2022, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors believe the fight escalated when Ortiz asked Sheppard to leave the apartment. He shot her six times before immediately taking off in his car, leaving his two young daughters behind with Ortiz’s body.

Detectives eventually tracked Sheppard to Pooler, Georgia, where he was apprehended two days later. Prosecutors said police found the handgun he used to kill Ortiz inside his car.

“Once again, an innocent victim died at the hands of someone who chose to resolve an argument with a gun,” Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha said. “[Sheppard’s] two young daughters lost both a friend in the victim, and a father, who will now spend the rest of his life in prison.”

“I hope this just and lengthy prison sentence will bring some measure of comfort to them and the rest of the victims loved ones,” he continued.

Sheppard refused to look up as two of Ortiz’s four children addressed the courtroom prior to his sentencing.

“I used to call him Pops,” India Ortiz said of Sheppard through tears. “We welcomed him into our family.”

Jose Ortiz teared up as he told the courtroom that his mother was his best friend.

“We spent every day together from morning to night,” he said. “I will never be the same.”

Christopher Ortiz was also supposed to address the courtroom, but couldn’t compose himself enough to do so.

Sheppard decided not to address the courtroom. He was sentenced to life in prison, as well as a consecutive 10-year suspended sentence with probation.

As part of Sheppard’s plea agreement, two counts against him were dropped.