Trial ordered for Midtown resident accused of shooting homeless man outside market

Antonio Barragan's trial begins Aug. 2

SAN DIEGO - A Midtown resident who confronted and shot a homeless man when the victim wouldn't leave a neighborhood market should go to trial on a felony assault charge, a judge ruled Friday.

Enough evidence was presented at a preliminary hearing for Antonio Serrano Barragan to support the decision, but it was a close call, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Einhorn said.

"You just can't pull out a gun and shoot a guy," Einhorn said in announcing his ruling.

Barragan, who is free on $50,000 bail, faces a maximum 17 years in prison if convicted of assault with a firearm and allegations of great bodily injury and personal discharge of a gun.

Defense attorney Alara Chilton had asked the judge to either dismiss the charge or reduce it from a felony to a misdemeanor. The attorney said her client repeatedly told the homeless man, Norson Obet, to leave the area before the victim ran at him.

The judge, who took a day to research a legal issue and ponder his ruling, said claims of self-defense were lacking in his view, but acknowledged that the arguments were reasonable.

"Lesser force" could have served the purpose of ridding Obet from the neighborhood, the judge said.

Barragan, 28, heard a commotion at the business near his home shortly after 11 p.m. on May 6 and responded by grabbing a gun and running over to see what was going on, according to San Diego police.

He arrived at the Cloverleaf Market in the 3000 block of Reynard Way to find Obet pounding on the front door, SDPD Officer Dino Delimitros said.

A store clerk testified that he had locked Obet out of the store because he was drunk and was shoplifting. The clerk said he called police when Obet kicked the door and knocked out a panel.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Moon said Barragan approached the market and placed himself about 20 feet away from Obet, with the loaded semiautomatic weapon at his side, and repeatedly ordered him to leave the area.

Eventually, Obet ran toward the defendant with his hands behind his back, and Barragan fired one shot, wounding Obet in the left shoulder, according to the prosecutor.

Barragan told police that he didn't believe Obet had a weapon when he charged him. The defendant also told a detective that he wouldn't have fired the gun and would have called police if he had it to do over again, according to court testimony.

The judge scheduled trial for Aug. 2.

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