Man fires 20 shots into Hillcrest restaurant, following wave of homophobic hate crimes. Why aren't we talking about it?
Tuesday night, 29-year-old man Stefano Markel Parker walked up to the Golden Dragon Asian Bistro in the heart of the Hillcrest neighborhood and fired 20 shots from an AR-15 into the restaurant. Miraculously, there were no fatalities. Though, with an assault rifle in hand, over a dozen shots fired, and extended ammunition available, the intention was obviously a massacre, which begs the question—why isn’t this being widely discussed?
Hillcrest, a nation-renowned neighborhood known for it's strong LGBTQ+ community, isn't a stranger to hate crimes. In October 2018, a catholic church in Hillcrest claimed to have been the subject of homophobic vandalism for over a year without consequence. In April 2018, an unidentified man wielding a large knife walked onto the intersection of University and Richmond St. and stabbed a 51-year-old resident in the neck and head. A brief investigation concluded the assailant was just "looking to start a fight." In October 2017, Teeno Amparana was arrested for assaulting a married gay couple in broad day light, shouting obscenities related to their race and sexual orientation. This all, of course, just within the past year and a half.
In investigating the shooting this week, San Diego police said the man who fired close to 20 shots into the busy Hillcrest restaurant Tuesday night made a "disturbing" Facebook post prior to the shooting. The message read: "Who told all these gayfers it was safe to come outside .....?"
With that known, as of Thursday, the police have still refused to rule the attack a hate crime. Even with the assault rifle weapon and extra ammunition found at the scene, the police have even gone as far as to claim it still inconclusive if the attack was even premeditated. Due process, of course, but foreal?
On the other side, Mayor Faulconer recently extended his condolences to the shaken community: “We pride ourselves in San Diego for being a very diverse city and a city that celebrates unique culture. That is never going to change. We will stand together to denounce violence and we will stand together to support our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community.
As a preliminary towards thwarting future attacks against Hillcrest's LGBTQ+ community, Mayor Faulconer asked the San Diego Police Department to increase patrols in the Hillcrest neighborhood.
San Diego City Council members Chris Ward, Jennifer Campbell, and Council President Georgette Gomez issued a joint statement regarding the shooting and the rising trend of hate crimes occurring in Hillcrest.
“Over the past week, we have seen an increase in crime and violence in a community that has historically identified as LGBTQIA+. From the cowardly vandalism of Pride Plaza to last night’s shooting on University Avenue, it is clear that more must be done to address the rising public safety concerns of our residents. As members of the LGBTQIA+ community and the City Council, we stand united against these acts of violence and hate. What is meant to silence our community will only make us stronger, and we look forward to using that strength to work with the Mayor’s office and the San Diego Police Department to ensure we truly are a city that is safe for all.”