Man accused shooting Navy pilot in Horton Plaza pleads not guilty

Posted at 4:30 PM, Jun 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 23:26:48-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A documented gang member accused of fatally shooting a career Navy man in an unprovoked attack outside a comedy club at Horton Plaza pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and other charges.

Arrow Morris, 39, of San Diego, was ordered held on $3 million bail.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund said 43-year-old James Celani -- a decorated Navy pilot -- and his cousin were enjoying a night out at the comedy club when at about 11:45 p.m. Saturday, Celani acknowledged the defendant and the defendant suddenly -- in a "brazen execution" -- shot the victim twice in the head and once in the chest. Celani was pronounced dead at UCSD Medical Center.


The victim's cousin was shot in the leg, Maund said.

Just before the shooting, Morris had been in the club with another man and a woman and was arguing with her, the prosecutor said.

Morris was physical with the woman and was walking away when he encountered the victims and opened fire, Maund said.

The defendant fled the scene and was arrested two days later in Serra Mesa, police said.

Maund said Morris has a 2011 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon in a road rage incident in which he struck a motorist with a hammer.

Besides murder, Morris is charged with attempted murder, felon in possession of a firearm and witness intimidation.

He faces 79 years to life in prison plus an additional eight years and four months behind bars if convicted, the prosecutor said.

Judge Lisa Rodriguez set a status conference for June 23 and a preliminary hearing for June 28.