A Southern California man recorded a video of himself fatally shooting a homeless person who threw a shoe at him after being awakened while sleeping on a sidewalk, prosecutors said.
Craig Sumner Elliott, 68, of Garden Grove, California, was charged with felony voluntary manslaughter and an enhancement of personal use of a firearm, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Monday. He faces up to 21 years in state prison if convicted on all charges.
The fatal shooting occurred on Sept. 28 at around 3 p.M. In Garden Grove, a city of over 169,000 and about 30 miles south of Los Angeles.
Elliott was jogging with his two dogs while pushing a pushcart when he encountered Antonio Garcia Avalos, 40, sleeping in the sidewalk, the district attorney’s office said. Elliot allegedly used the pushcart to nudge Avalos “in an attempt to wake him up to get around him,” according to the district attorney’s office.
Avalos woke up and yelled at Elliot to get away from him, the district attorney’s office said, adding later that Elliot then allegedly grabbed a handgun from his pushcart.
“Video taken by Elliott captured Avalos standing up and throwing a shoe at Elliot, who ducks to avoid the shoe and shoots Avalos three times,” the district attorney’s office said in the statement. “Avalos later died from his injuries.”.
At the time of the shooting, the district attorney’s office said Elliot had an active concealed carry permit issued by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Elliot was arrested by the Garden Grove Police Department on Nov. 17 but was released from custody after posting $100,000 bail.
He is scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 15.
“This is a tragic set of circumstances that unfolded in the worst possible way over a minor inconvenience of a blocked sidewalk, and a man is dead as a result,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in the statement. “This case is a stark reminder that taking the law into your own hands is never the answer and that there are consequences for your actions.”.
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California gun laws
The shooting came just days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two new laws regulating gun control in the state. The laws ban people from carrying firearms in most public places while doubling the taxes on guns and ammunition sold in the state.
The two laws were a part of nearly two dozen gun control measures Newsom had signed on Sept. 26, which have since faced legal challenges. The state has been seeking to implement gun restrictions in light of numerous mass shootings.
The California Rifle and Pistol Association has already sued to block the law prohibiting people from carrying guns in 26 public places, such as public parks, public demonstrations and gatherings, amusement parks, churches, banks, zoos, and any other privately owned commercial establishment that is open to the public,” according to the bill.
California has some of the lowest firearm mortality rates in the country, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2021, California ranked 43rd out of 50 states with 9 deaths for every 100,000 people.
But according to the California Department of Justice, violent crimes have increased in recent years. The violent crime rate increased by 6.1% in 2022.
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Gun deaths climb across U.S.
The United States has been grappling with historically elevated levels of gun violence, which surged during the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2021, for the second straight year, gun deaths reached the highest number ever recorded – nearly 49,000, according to the CDC. And according to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 38,451 deaths related to gun violence so far this year.
Contributing: Grace Hauck and Sara Chernikoff, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.