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Man pleads guilty to shooting into restaurant in San Diego's Hillcrest neighborhood

Posted at 1:29 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 16:29:39-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man who fired an assault rifle into a Hillcrest restaurant, but missed about a dozen people inside the eatery, pleaded guilty Thursday to five counts of assault with a semi-automatic firearm and is slated to be sentenced next year to nearly 50 years in prison.

Stefano Markell Parker, 32, entered his pleas Thursday in connection with the Feb. 12, 2019, shooting at The Asian Bistro on University Avenue.

Parker previously faced nearly a dozen attempted murder counts and a potential 374 years-to-life sentence, but will instead receive a 49-year term when he is sentenced Jan. 14.

San Diego police said that at about 7:40 p.m. that night, Parker opened fire from the street, sending patrons inside the restaurant ducking for cover. None of the people inside were struck by the gunfire.

Parker fled the scene but was arrested a short time later in an alley on Fourth Avenue, according to police, who said the rifle used in the shooting was located nearby.

Police and prosecutors have not disclosed a motive for the attack, though around the time of the shooting, some opined at an anti-LGBTQ motivation.

Investigators at the time said they had discovered a homophobic social media post from Parker, and then-Mayor Kevin Faulconer publicly decried the shooting, saying in a news conference, "We pride ourselves on being a very diverse city that celebrates unique culture. 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."

However, Parker was not charged with hate crime allegations in connection with the shooting.

Parker's pleas also came with an admission that he has a 2006 murder conviction out of Alabama, when he was a juvenile. He was sentenced to 20 years in that case, but served four.