SAN DIEGO — An Escondido man who fired a gun into the air outside last fall’s sold-out Ice Cube concert at the Del Mar fairgrounds was sentenced Wednesday to the maximum term of three years in prison.
Prosecutors said Daniel Elizarraras, 26, was angry and frustrated because he couldn’t buy a ticket. His lawyer said Elizarraras had been depressed and was suicidal, believing that if he fired a gun, he would be killed.
“His actions were an intent to end his life,” defense attorney Pedro Bernal told Superior Court Judge Kathleen Lewis. Bernal also said his client is remorseful about what he did.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Reilly countered that the defendant’s actions “put so many lives at risk” and forced a sheriff’s deputy to open fire to stop him.
“The fact that no one (else) was shot is an extremely lucky fact,” Reilly said.
The judge agreed that the incident had been “extremely dangerous” for vulnerable people in the crowd.
The shooting occurred on Sept. 2 after Elizarraras went to a fairgrounds ticket booth and was told the popular rap artist’s concert was sold out, prosecutors said.
Sheriff’s deputies heard him arguing with the ticket seller and walked toward the dispute in time to see Elizarraras pull out a pistol and fire a round into the air, then turn the gun toward a deputy. Sheriff’s Deputy Tyler Eikermann used a Taser on Elizarraras, and when that proved ineffective, shot him four times in the torso and arm.
Bernal said his client drank a lot of alcohol “to get up the courage” to fire into the air amid the large crowd. Reilly said Elizarraras’ blood-alcohol content after the shooting was .37 percent, more than four times the legal limit at which drivers in California are presumed intoxicated.
Elizarraras spent considerable time in a hospital before being booked into jail. A prosecutor said in January that one bullet remained lodged near the defendant’s spine.
On the day his preliminary hearing was to begin, on Jan. 23, Elizarraras pleaded guilty to one count of firing a semi-automatic pistol in a grossly negligent manner, which carried a maximum three-year sentence. A more serious charge of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, with a maximum 19-year term, was dismissed.
The shooting broke out just after the 10th race at the track. In a TVG broadcast of the race posted on Twitter, an announcer can be heard repeatedly saying, “There’s gunfire at the track,” as horses continued along the turf course after passing the finish line.
Cellphone videos posted on Twitter showed a chaotic scene as the deputy fired the four rounds.
The concert, drawing about 18,000 people, got started about 8:30 p.m. Ice Cube weighed in on the shooting on Twitter the following day.
“I feel bad for the people who left the show, but totally understand,” he tweeted. “Moral of the story: Come see ya homie Cube…but leave the strap at home.”
Strap is slang for gun.