A man suspected of opening fire in the Gaslamp Quarter during a fight, striking two bystanders, pleaded not guilty Thursday to attempted murder and other charges.
Johnza Watson, 25, is accused of firing at another person on the night of June 24 near Fifth Avenue and F Street.
Deputy District Attorney Ted Fiorito said the gunfire stemmed from a “gang-related altercation” between Watson and others.
Though the gunfire missed the intended target, it hit two women standing at a crosswalk, according to prosecutor.
One of the victims was shot in the hand, while the other was struck in the chest. Fiorito said the same bullet traveled through both victims.
Though police did not release the names of the victims, their employer, The Preiss Company, a student housing management firm, identified them as Lane Sheer and Toni Yrlas.
The company’s COO said in a statement that the women were in San Diego to attend the National Apartment Association conference that weekend.
“If you’ve ever met Lane and Toni before, you know how kind and sweet these two are,” the statement read. “They are long-time TPCO employees and have been an integral part of our company culture. Our collective families are devastated.”
A GoFundMe page to raise money for the victims’ medical expenses reached nearly $200,000 in donations by Thursday.
Sheer remains hospitalized in San Diego, according to an update the page’s creator posted on Tuesday. Yrlas is “back home and resting comfortably.”
Authorities arrested Watson about a week later in connection with an alleged assault upon a person near the same area as the shooting.
Fiorito said a man was attacked by a group of people, including Watson, around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. San Diego police Lt. Adam Sharki said Watson was among five people arrested for the suspected assault, which police say happened near 600 Fifth.
During that alleged assault, the victim’s cell phone and wallet were taken. The prosecutor said when police arrested Watson, the found blood on his shoes, which alleged came from kicking the victim.
Watson, who remains in custody without bail, is charged with attempted murder and assault with a semi-automatic firearm in connection with the shooting. He was also charged with robbery and assault for his alleged part in the beating that happened the following week.
– City News Service