DA declines to charge suspect in fatal Gaslamp shooting

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego District Attorney’s Office decided not to file charges Wednesday against a man accused of fatally shooting a bar manager in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Jonathan Hernandez, 23, was scheduled to be arraigned on murder charges Wednesday at the downtown courthouse.

Hernandez was arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the shooting early Monday morning that took the life of 33-year-old Joseph Aaron Holtz. Holtz was shot at least once in the upper body and died at the scene near Fifth Avenue and Market Street just before 2 a.m. Friends said Holtz was a single father who worked as a chef and bar manager at the Myst Lounge.

San Diego police investigators said the shooting happened after the victim and a companion got into an altercation with a group of men. Based on information from witnesses, police believed that Hernandez fired the fatal shot and fled in a taxi that was later stopped by officers.

Police said that they have discovered new information since the arrest. They did not say what that information is, but when they shared it with prosecutors, the District Attorney’s Office decided against charging Hernandez.

A police spokesman said that Hernandez remains a suspect in the case, but he could be released from jail Wednesday. As of Wednesday evening, he had not been released.

Craig Womach, a friend of Holtz, showed up for Hernandez's court appearance, only to find out it was canceled. He then went to San Diego Central Jail, where he waited for hours for Hernandez to walk out the doors.

Womach says Holtz, whom he called "Joey," made a big impact on him.

"Joey was very kind-hearted. We actually had people come in the nightclub just to see Joey. Joey was a very respectful person. He welcomed everybody," Womach said. "A lot of people are very devastated about everything that happened that night."

Womach says he was crushed when he learned of his friend's death.

"Joey was a great dad, very respectful dad. Did everything for his child," Womach said. "It's going to be very, very sad that he's going to get released and we're going to go out not knowing what happened."