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California Man Charged in Fatal Homeless Person Shooting

Local prosecutors have charged a man for the fatal shooting of a homeless person in Orange County, California.

They say Craig Sumner Elliott encountered the man sleeping on the sidewalk during a jog.

After waking him, the two had a short argument that ended when Mr Elliott allegedly filmed himself shooting the man three times.

The county district attorney charged him with felony voluntary manslaughter and personal use of a firearm.

Should he be convicted, Mr Elliott – who has a concealed carry permit – faces a maximum of 21 years in prison.

He is scheduled to appear in court on 15 December, when he will enter a plea.

“Taking the law into your own hands is never the answer,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said about the shooting, which occurred only a ten-minute drive from Disneyland.

BBC News could not immediately reach Mr Elliott or identify his attorney, though court records show the California man posted a $100,000 bond on Wednesday.

Prosecutors say that on 28 September, Mr Elliott was jogging with his two dogs through a neighbourhood about 30 miles (48km) south of Los Angeles when he encountered Antonio Garcia Avalos, a homeless man, sleeping on the sidewalk.

Instead of going around Mr Avalos, prosecutors say, Mr Elliott nudged him with his push cart and woke him.

The ensuing altercation quickly turned deadly.

Authorities say that Mr Avalos, 40, began to shout at Mr Elliott to get away from him. He threw a shoe at Mr Elliott, who ducked. Mr Elliot then pulled a gun from his pushcart and shot Mr Avalos three times. Mr Avalos later died of his injuries.

And, prosecutors say, Mr Elliott filmed the whole episode.

“This is a tragic set of circumstances that unfolded in the worst possible way over a minor inconvenience of a blocked sidewalk,” Mr Spitzer said in a statement.

The shooting took place as California struggles to house and help its homeless population, which stands at about 171,000 people, according to a June 2023 study published by the University of California, San Francisco.

While Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has prioritised the issue and California has spent billions on alleviating it, homelessness remains an intractable problem for state leaders.

Twenty percent of California residents name homelessness as a top issue, according to a 2023 survey from the Public Policy Institute of California.

Despite wealthy technology and entertainment sectors, a dire shortage of affordable housing, a steep cost of living, and mental health and substance issues all continue to fuel the crisis. The result bolsters the states’ growing rates of income inequality.

Source : BBC