By Neal Uptown
A man who fired 19 shots into a Hillcrest restaurant in 2019 and miraculously missed hitting anyone has pleaded guilty and agreed to serve a 49-year prison term.
Deputy District Attorney Leonard Trinh said on Oct. 22 that Stefano Markell Parker, now 32, will have to serve 85% of the 49-year sentence before he can be paroled because it involves violent felonies.
The motive appears to be hatred of gay people— given what Parker wrote about LGBTQ+ people on his Facebook page before the Feb. 12, 2019, assault on the Asian Bistro at 414 University Avenue at 7:40 p.m. in Hillcrest, the cornerstone of the LGBTQ+ community.
Parker, wearing a trench coat, stood on University Avenue and fired 19 rounds into the restaurant, busting out all the windows and glass. The restaurant is also known as Golden Dragon with its iconic sign outside.
All 11 diners inside ducked down as did the restaurant’s employees. No one was even injured by flying glass in what a prosecutor at the time called a miracle.
Parker then changed clothes and abandoned the rifle, but police arrested him four blocks away.
“Who told all these gayfers it was safe to come outside…?” wrote Parker two weeks before the shooting.
Parker also wrote “Nothing against gay dudes but (obscenity) they look at you…when they know you don’t swing they(sic) way.”
San Diego Superior Court Judge Fred Link set sentencing for Jan. 14, 2022. Parker remains in the George Bailey Detention Facility without bail.
Parker was convicted of murder when he was 16 years old in Jefferson, Alabama in the death of another teenager in a drive-by shooting. The Alabama records are not public here as Parker was a juvenile at the time, but he did not receive a long sentence in that 2005 crime.
Parker pleaded guilty before Link to five counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Eleven counts of attempted murder, firing into an occupied building, and felon in possession of a firearm were dismissed.
If Parker went to trial and was convicted of all charges, he would have faced 154 years to life in prison.
With the 49-year sentence, Parker will have to serve almost 42 actual years before he can be paroled around age 70.
Early in his case, Parker was found to be mentally incompetent to stand trial and he was sent to Patton State Hospital for treatment. Doctors there determined he had regained his competency and he was returned to San Diego.
Superior Court Judge Cindy Davis found Parker to be mentally fit on April 21, according to court records.
Link conducted a preliminary hearing May 18 in which San Diego police officers, criminalists and agents with the Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms testified. He was ordered to stand trial on all counts.
Parker’s murder conviction in Alabama in 2006 will result in him receiving five years consecutively for having a prior felony conviction.
— Neal Putnam is a local court reporter. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.