It’s scary to think something as meaningless as the color of your shoes or the shape of your face could change your life in a day. It’s even scarier to think that you could be haunted by it for years to come.
Chris Borgzinner knows this all too well. Borgzinner, 18 at the time, rode the 9-San Bruno bus through the Mission on his way to an evening acting class. He had gotten into acting the year before, his senior year of high school, and even got the lead role in a movie called La Mission, which is about street violence in the district.
Borgzinner was wearing red shoes, a color associated with the Norteno gang, who is prevalent in the Mission district. Reports are conflicted in whether it was the shoe color, or Borgzinner looking similar to rival gang member that provoked the attack. But either way, a group of men approached him on the bus, asking if he was affiliated with the gang. He denied, but was still brutally beaten and robbed.
The bones in both of his eye sockets were fractured, leaving him bloody and swollen. He now has a metal plate in his face, and experiences pain every morning to this day, almost a year later.
One of his attackers, 19 year old Uluao Mase was later arrested, and pled guilty to the crime. Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge James Collins agreed to a two-year sentence over the objections of prosecutors, say they had hoped for five.
“It’s a significant sentence,” defense lawyer V. Roy Lefcourt told the Chronicle, citing Mase’s lack of an adult criminal record, and his expression of remorse for the attack.
However, of that two year sentence, Mase is only required to serve 85 percent of that. “He’ll only serve a year to two to three months” says Sonia Borgzinner, the victim’s mother. “I just don’t believe it.”
Borgzinner, who’s had to endure several surgeries to repair injuries from the attack, says he’s in constant pain, and tells CBS5 he’s furious and afraid.
“How can anyone give him leniency?” Borgzinner asks, expressing fears of retaliation when Mase is back on the streets.
Formal sentencing for Uluao Mase is expected Friday.