Hate crime charge filed against Carlsbad man accused of shooting BB gun at business

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VISTA (CNS) – A man who allegedly fired a BB gun at an Oceanside business that had put up a sign supporting the Black Lives Matter movement was charged Friday with felony vandalism and a hate crime allegation.

Steve Soto, 23, of Carlsbad, allegedly drove by Bliss Tea & Treats around 7:10 p.m. June 4, then fired a BB gun out the window of his vehicle, shattering a window at the Mission Avenue business and causing more than $1,800 in damage, Oceanside police Sgt. John McKean said.

The business had a sign in the window at the time that read: “Black owned, we stand with you,” McKean said.

The sergeant said surveillance video helped detectives identify the vehicle used in the crime and, ultimately, Soto, who was arrested July 15.

Soto is charged with vandalism and a hate crime allegation in connection with the Bliss Tea & Treats shooting, and assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly shooting a man with a BB gun on May 28.

He also faces two misdemeanor counts of discharging a BB gun in a grossly negligent manner stemming from unspecified incidents occurring in June and July, according to the criminal complaint.

During his arraignment Friday morning, Soto pleaded not guilty to all charges and was served with a criminal protective order requiring him to stay away from Bliss Tea & Treats’ owner, as well as the victim of the alleged May 28 shooting.

Soto remains in custody in lieu of $60,000 bail and is due back in court Aug. 28 for a readiness conference.

A GoFundMe page created last month to raise funds to repair the damage to the shop has raised more than $3,000. The page may be viewed at gofundme.com/f/bliss-tea-amp-treats-repairs.

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