Three Hayward men accused of shooting a San Francisco man they thought was gay with a BB gun in February delayed entering pleas today, and prosecutors indicated that talks are under way to settle the case.
Shafiq Hashemi, 21, Mohammad Habibzada, 24, and Sayed Bassam, 21, are accused of shooting a 27-year-old man from their car at 16th and Guerrero streets in the Mission District on Feb. 26, then driving off. The man was hit in the cheek but not seriously injured.
Police arrested the three nearby and they allegedly confessed that they had come to San Francisco to shoot gay people, according to police.
Prosecutors have charged them with assault with a deadly weapon, negligent discharge of a firearm, hate crimes and attempted mayhem.
The defendants were not required to appear in person in San Francisco Superior Court this morning. They have remained in custody since their bail was raised to $450,000 each on March 12.
Judge Bruce Chan ordered entry of plea delayed until April 19 “to see if there can be some resolution that would meet all the interests of the communities and parties involved.”
“We’ve communicated an offer to the defendants, and they’re considering it,” prosecutor Victor Hwang said after the hearing.
Hwang said his office made the offer after discussions with various community groups that belong to a local hate crimes coalition. He said the offer “conveys the seriousness of the offense, and also takes into account the age (of the defendants), the remorse that’s been shown, the cooperation of the defendants, and the police investigation.”
Community groups have been part of the discussion “because hate crimes are unique,” Hwang said.
“The whole impetus behind hate crimes charges is a recognition that it’s not just one victim involved in each case, but it’s a whole community that is intimidated or impacted,” he said.
According to Hwang, community service may be part of the settlement, though the final details of the possible plea deal are still being discussed.
The three men reportedly targeted nearly a dozen victims that evening, recording the shootings on a video camera confiscated by police along with a “rifle-style” BB gun.
However, no other victims of that night’s other shootings have come forward, and prosecutors have not filed additional charges.