A man is facing a plethora of charges after he shot a BB gun at a business in Oceanside. The man was identified as Steve Soto, 23, of Carlsbad. Soto allegedly drove to Bliss Tea & Treats at approximately 7:10 p.m. and fired a BB gun at the business, which resulted in a shattered window. The cost of the damage was estimated at over $1,800.
The business had signage posted that they were owned by black people and that they were in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Using surveillance footage, San Diego detectives were able to identify the vehicle that Soto was in when he shot at the business. Eventually, that footage helped the authorities arrest Soto.
Soto is facing vandalism and hate crime charges for his actions. Additionally, he also is looking at assault with a deadly weapon for a prior offense in which he used his BB gun to shoot another man. The criminal complaint states that both incidents have also added two misdemeanor counts of discharging a BB gun in a grossly negligent manner to the list.
Soto pleaded not guilty to all of the charges during his arraignment. The owners of Bliss Tea & Treats served him with a protective order requiring him to keep his distance from them, and the victim who was shot in the May incident also received a protective order against Soto. Soto is being held in custody and will be going back to court this month.
After the news came out about the incident, a GoFundMe page was created for the shop. The page successfully raised over $3,000 for the owners of Bliss Tea & Treats to put toward fixing the damage caused by the shooting.
Is a BB Gun Considered a Weapon in California?
In California, PC 245(a) makes it illegal to assault another party using a deadly weapon or any type of tool that is not a gun. The law does identify BB guns as an instrument, not a firearm. This is so because PC 16700 dictates that BB guns are not considered real guns, but rather imitation guns. Despite not being considered a real gun, they are still considered a weapon when they are used to commit an assault on another person. When you intend to cause another person harm by shooting your BB gun, and the BB pellets connect with a victim causing injuries, you could be looking at an assault with a deadly weapon charge in California.