Alleged Gunman Arrested After Opening Fire At Hillcrest Restaurant, No One Injured
UPDATE: 5:22 p.m., Feb. 13, 2019
An ex-con who allegedly riddled a Hillcrest restaurant with bullets from an assault rifle — sending terrified diners ducking for cover but somehow injuring no one — was behind bars Wednesday facing a slate of criminal charges, including attempted murder.
Stefano Markell Parker, 29, was arrested without incident Tuesday night, about 90 minutes after the shooting at The Asian Bistro, 414 University Ave., according to San Diego police.
The restaurant is located in the busy uptown neighborhood, which is home to much of the city's LGBTQ population. Bystanders made 911 calls to report seeing a man in a trench coat firing numerous rounds from a rifle into the Asian-food restaurant, shattering its front windows, about 7:40 p.m.
Following the barrage of gunshots, the shooter lowered his weapon and walked off, Officer John Buttle said.
None of the nine patrons inside at the time was injured, even though investigators at the shooting scene found at least 19 .556-caliber shell casings.
At a news conference late this afternoon, SDPD Assistant Chief Albert Guaderrama told reporters that investigators were looking into whether the firearm assault may have been a hate crime, due to possibly anti-gay statements the suspect had posted on Facebook.
During the briefing at downtown police headquarters, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the "terrifying" crime had prompted immediate plans for increased officer patrols in Hillcrest.
"We pride ourselves in San Diego for being a very diverse city and a city that celebrates unique culture," Faulconer said. "That is never going to change. We will stand together to denounce violence, and we will stand together to support our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community."
After a witness reported seeing a man changing his garments in the area and provided a new clothing description, officers found Parker in an alley off the 3500 block of Fourth Avenue and took him into custody around 9 p.m. Discarded clothes, the rifle believed to have been used in the shooting and magazines for the weapon were located nearby.
Parker, who was convicted and served prison time in connection with a homicide in Alabama in the early 2000s, was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of nine counts of attempted murder and one count each of being a felon in possession of a firearm and using a firearm in the commission of a felony. He was being held without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Friday afternoon.