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Man accused in deadly Gaslamp Quarter shooting spree ordered to stand trial

Posted at 7:42 AM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 11:00:47-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man accused of opening fire in the Gaslamp Quarter last year, killing a man and injuring four others in separate shootings across the downtown area, was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on charges that include murder and attempted murder.

Travis Fereydoun Sarreshteh, 33, is accused of fatally shooting 28-year-old parking valet Justice Boldin on April 22, 2021, in front of the Pendry San Diego Hotel where the victim worked.

After allegedly killing Boldin, prosecutors say Sarreshteh then walked north on Fifth Avenue where he encountered a group of people near Island Avenue and started shooting, striking four people.

Sarreshteh was followed by a pair of bystanders who tackled him and kept him subdued until officers arrived.

A suspected motive for the shootings has not been disclosed. Police have alleged Sarreshteh used an unserialized "ghost gun" in the shooting spree which began at about 10:30 p.m.

During a two-day preliminary hearing, several of the shooting victims and others who witnessed the gunfire described the shooter's demeanor as calm and casual after leaving both shooting scenes.

Chris Luciano, who was walking his dog that night, said he saw the shooter approach Boldin and open fire without warning. Luciano testified that Boldin had not interacted with the shooter, and was leaning over his valet podium, possibly looking at his cellphone just before the gunfire.

The gunman fired a few shots, started to walk away, then turned back and fired more gunshots at the victim, he said, before walking away on Fifth Avenue "casually ... like nothing even happened."

About a block away, Sarreshteh allegedly encountered a group of four friends who had just flown in from the East Coast for a vacation in San Diego. The men testified Monday that as Sarreshteh approached them on a busy sidewalk in front of Gaslamp Pizza, he said something to the effect of, "Get out of the way."

The group then parted to let him through and after he passed them, the men separately testified that he said, "What are you laughing at?" or "Are you laughing at me?"

The shooter then opened fire, striking three of the men. Vincent Gazzani was shot in the back and arm, while Jatil Kodati and Alexander Balis suffered gunshot wounds to their arms.

Kodati testified that "everyone else" in the street was running when the shots rang out, while the shooter walked away "like it was just another day."

Shai Gino, a former soldier in the Israel Defense Forces who provided first aid to the shooting victims, said the gunman was "the calmest I could ever imagine" as he was walking away from the shooting scene.

Homicide Detective Steven Choi of the San Diego Police Department testified that a business owner who witnessed the Gaslamp Pizza shooting followed the gunman for a few blocks, and saw the shooter twirl his gun in the air as he walked up Fifth Avenue.

One woman told police that the gunman walked calmly past her shortly after the pizzeria shooting and assured her, "Don't worry. I don't shoot girls," SDPD Homicide Detective Christopher Murray testified.

Another shooting victim, 68-year-old retired schoolteacher Steven Ely, was not with the group of four men shot at in front of the pizzeria, but suffered an apparently inadvertent gunshot to his abdomen. Ely testified that he was walking to a bar to watch his son perform with his band when he was struck. The bullet went through Ely's pancreas and lodged near his spine, where it remains to this day, he testified.

One of two men who tackled Sarreshteh to the ground just before his arrest testified that he witnessed the shooting outside Gaslamp Pizza.

Like other witnesses, Matthew McKeon said he heard the gunman ask something to the effect of, "Are you laughing at me?" before opening fire "indiscriminately" on a crowd of people. McKeon said the shooter continued pulling the trigger several times after either firing all his bullets or having the gun jam.

The gunman then walked away "casually" and McKeon trailed him to the corner of Fifth Avenue and G Street.

There, McKeon said he locked eyes with another man, Justin Larrabee, who mouthed, "Is that him?" while pointing to the shooter. McKeon said he nodded, and both men -- strangers to one another -- proceeded to tackle Sarreshteh and hold him on the ground.