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Hillcrest shooting may be investigated as hate crime, suspect made homophobic social media post prior to crime

Hillcrest shooting incident being investigated as a hate crime.
Photo credit:
Hillcrest Business Association

San Diego Police are considering whether or not to investigate Tuesday night's shooting in Hillcrest as a hate crime after finding a disturbing homophobic post on the suspect's social media page.

The neighborhood is still reeling after the gunman, 29-year-old Stefano Markell Parker, took a loaded automatic rifle and fired into the busy Asian Bistro on University Avenue just before 8 pm. 

The bullets shattered the front glass of the restaurant where many guests and employees were present, but no injuries were reported. 

The San Diego Police found 19 casings on the ground in the wake of the shooter's assault into the building before he fled the scene.

Parker has a history of making racially charged political posts, but one homophobic one may give some clue as to his motive on Tuesday. 

On January 31, Parker wrote on Facebook, "Who told all these gayfers it was safe to come outside .....?"

Parker was apprehended following a police canvassing search through a nearby alley and surrounding streets. 

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit was out of town when the incident happened.

Assistant Chief Albert Guaderrama spoke at a press conference on Wednesday saying the suspect was arrested for homicide in Alabama in early 2003 doing 4-5 years in custody time.

As far as Tuesday's incident being a hate crime Chief Guaderrama said the department is "searching for additional evidence to see if it's going to make that threshold."

City Commissioner and Honorary Mayor of Hillcrest, Nicole Murray-Ramirez told San Diego Gay and Lesbian News he was on the phone with the chief not long after the arrest. 

"Within hours after the Hillcrest shooting Police Chief David Nisleit was on the phone with LGBT community leaders although he was in Washington. D.C.," stated Murray-Ramirez. "Mayor Kevin Faulconer also immediately reached out."

SDPD has increased its patrols in Hillcrest. 

"The Police Chief and Mayor are making this case a top priority and leaving no stone unturned," adds Murray-Ramirez who has recently talked to both city officials. "Mayor Faulconer will be making a Thursday night Hillcrest tour of our businesses and nightclubs to show his support and concerns."

The community is also concerned with the recent vandalism that occurred on plaques on the Pride flag monument located on Normal Street and University last week. 

In that case, faces of LGBT advocates and the rainbow flag were scratched out with a sharp object. Police are concerned with the uptick in crimes in the area, but cannot determine if all of them are related. 

Nicole Murray-Ramirez will join Mayor Faulconer for his tour on Thursday night and had the following message. 

"The most important thing our GLBT community allies and friends must do, is to always be alert and report anything suspicious immediately to the police department," stated City Commissioner Murray-Ramirez.