SAN DIEGO – A 29-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of firing 19 rounds on a Hillcrest restaurant with a high-powered rifle, but no one was wounded, police said Wednesday.
Dispatchers received several calls shortly before 7:40 p.m. Tuesday from people reporting that a man was wearing a trench coat and carrying a rifle near University and Fourth avenues, an area lined with restaurants and bars, San Diego police Officer John Buttle said.
The gunman, identified as Stefano Markell Parker, walked up to The Asian Bistro and started firing into the restaurant, police said. Nine people were inside the shop at the time, but miraculously no one was hurt.
The rounds shattered windows at the restaurants and some people inside reported being hit by shattered glass, but any wounds were superficial, Lt. Andra Brown said. Investigators at the shooting scene found at least 19 “assault rifle-caliber” shell casings, Brown said.
Police have not shared a suspected motive for the shooting, but in a press conference late Wednesday afternoon, officials said they are investigating whether to consider the attack a hate crime.
Police referenced a “disturbing Facebook posting” made by Parker before the shooting. Two weeks before the attack, Parker posted a negative message about the LGBTQ community. Around 1 p.m. on the day of the attack, he posted a lengthy message questioning the nature of life and freedom.
After the shooting, officers began searching the area for the suspect with the help of a police helicopter. A witness told officers he saw a man changing his clothes and the witness was able to provide officers with a new clothing description, Buttle said.
Before the suspect was arrested, an officer found clothing matching those worn by the suspect discarded in an alley, Brown said.
Officers located the suspect and arrested him on suspicion of attempted murder around 9 p.m., Officer Dino Delimitros said. A short time later, police found an AR-15 rifle and magazines for the weapon nearby.
Parker was booked into San Diego Central Jail at 3:40 a.m. Wednesday, according to San Diego County Sheriff’s Department website. He was being held without bail.
Parker faces nine counts of attempted murder and felony possession of a firearm charges.
Anyone with information about the shooting was asked to call San Diego police at 619-531-2000 or San Diego County Crime Stoppers at 888-580-83477.