Mon. May 20th, 2024

A California man who allegedly shot a 21-year-old unarmed Black man who was crossing the street told him, “Oh, you think you can run?” before firing his weapon and striking the young man in the back of his leg, officials said Friday.

During a preliminary hearing, San Jose police Det. Jessica Lindenberg testified that the victim, who survived the shooting, told her in an interview that he was staying at an Airbnb across the street from 67-year-old Mark Waters’s home on Oct. 2, 2022, when he left the rental to go to a nearby Safeway for food around 11 p.m. As he was crossing the street to get onto the sidewalk, the victim, identified as El’hajj Bullock, said he saw Waters exit his house with a gun in his hand.

“[Bullock] believed in that moment that he was being robbed,” Lindenberg said, adding that Bullock said he put his hands up to show they were empty “and said something along the lines of, ‘I don’t have anything.’”

Lindenberg testified that Bullock said Waters then pulled the gun up and pointed it at his chest. At that point, Bullock turned around and started to run away from Waters.

As he was running, Bullock said, he heard Waters say, “Oh, you think you can run?,” heard the sound of a gunshot, and then fell to the ground as he felt pain in his right leg.

Bullock was transported to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery to repair a broken femur, according to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Aidan Welsh. As a result of the shooting, Bullock was still experiencing pain and relying on crutches and a wheelchair to get around two months later, Lindenberg testified.

Waters, who is currently being held without bail, is facing one count of felony assault with a semi-automatic firearm resulting in great bodily injury and involving the personal use of a firearm in connection with the shooting, which officials have described as an “unprovoked attack.” Authorities are also continuing to investigate possible hate crime allegations, but prosecutors have not filed any additional charges or enhancements.

During the hearing Friday, both Welsh and Waters’s attorney Jose Badillo questioned Lindenberg and San Jose police officer Mitchell Magnano, who responded to the scene, about the investigation into the incident.

Surveillance footage from a nearby residence that captured the shooting was also played in court. According to police, the video showed that Bullock was running away from Waters as the defendant moved toward him and fired his weapon, which was identified by Welsh as a Glock 22 semi-automatic pistol.

Waters then went back inside to leave the firearm in the house, Badillo said, before going up to Bullock and calling 911.

Magnano said Waters reported that he had shot someone he thought was breaking into his house. According to officials, however, the surveillance footage showed Bullock was shot while he was in the street and nowhere near the entrance to Waters’s home, his front lawn, or his driveway.

Lindenberg testified that Bullock told police he had checked into the Airbnb across the street from Waters’s house earlier that day. He said he had not met Waters, did not have any prior interactions with him, and did not see him before the shooting. While being taken into custody, Waters appeared to express some regret, according to the detective’s testimony, telling the officer who was detaining him, “I can’t take it back, what I’ve done. I fucked up.”

Waters told police that after the shooting he saw a set of headphones near Bullock, which he claimed he mistakenly thought was a firearm. A photo from the scene showed a pair of silver and white headphones at the scene, according to Lindenberg.

“Have you ever seen a white firearm before?” Welsh said.

“Not in my experience, no,” Lindenberg testified.

While cross-examining the detective, Badillo tried to introduce evidence about Waters calling police two days before the shooting because he believed then, too, that someone was breaking into his house. Badillo said that the prior incident “goes to [Waters’s] motivation.” Badillo also asked the court to allow him to present surveillance footage of an unidentified person peering into Waters’s car less than an hour before the shooting, but Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Shelyna Brown barred him from doing so during the probable cause portion of the hearing.

Brown ultimately ruled that there was sufficient evidence for the case to go before a jury. The court then heard arguments from the attorneys about whether to reduce Waters’s bail. Waters had been arrested at the scene but later released on a pre-arraignment bail of $100,000. It wasn’t until November that he was formally charged with a crime. During his arraignment on Dec. 12, he was remanded to custody on a no-bail hold.

Badillo asked that Waters be given the opportunity to pay a cash bail and return home during the legal proceedings.

“He’s 67 years old [and has] no record at all,” the attorney said. “With the support of his family, I think there are conditions that can be in place that can protect the community.”

Badillo told the court that two days before the shooting Waters’s car was broken into and his garage door was left open in an incident that left his daughter, who lives at the home, scared. On the day of the shooting, Waters was alerted to someone “trying to get into his car or into his house.”

“That’s why he has a firearm,” Badillo said, arguing that, when Waters saw Bullock “coming out of the dark,” he was already on alert.

Still, Badillo admitted that there’s no evidence that Bullock was “involved in anything going on” at Waters’s house and that his client “may be mistaken.”

But Welsh argued that Waters’s behavior posed a clear public safety threat, considering that based on his statements he knew that Bullock was running away when he fired his weapon.

“The defendant had fired a shot on a residential street and could have hit anyone,” Welsh said.

He also pointed out that Bullock looks nothing like the unidentified person who peered into Waters’s car and cited statements from a judge who oversaw a previous hearing in the case that there are “questions of racial motivations.”

In prior incidents when Waters reported being burglarized, he called the police, Welsh said, “but here he says, ‘I see someone outside of my house and I think he’s breaking into my car,’ but he doesn’t call the police.”

“He wants to find that person,” the prosecutor said. “He wants to inflict revenge on them or catch them and that’s what led to this.”

“He shot him without asking any questions,” Welsh continued.

Brown decided not to change Waters’s bail, saying that his actions posed “a public safety concern of every conceivable level.” Waters is due back in court on Feb. 21.

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born | buffygunner@illicitdeeds.com

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