A man who opened fire in the Gaslamp Quarter last summer and shot two bystanders in the process was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years and six months in state prison.
Prosecutors allege that, during an altercation, Johnza Watson, 26, opened fire on another man on June 24 and missed the intended target, but struck two women standing at a crosswalk near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and F Street.
One of the women was shot in the hand, while the other was struck in the chest. The victims were from the East Coast and visiting San Diego for a work-related conference, according to a statement posted online by their employer shortly after the shooting.
Watson was arrested about a week later in connection with the assault and robbery of a man, also in the Gaslamp Quarter. That victim’s wallet, necklace and cell phone were stolen, according to Deputy District Attorney Ted Fiorito. Following his arrest for the robbery, surveillance footage helped police identify Watson as the June 24 shooter, the prosecutor said.
Watson pleaded guilty last year to attempted voluntary manslaughter, assault with a semi-automatic firearm, and robbery charges.
At Watson’s sentencing hearing, San Diego Superior Court Judge Theodore Weathers said that while Watson was punched first during the initial altercation, “You had no business firing a gun in a crowded area such as the Gaslamp.”
Prior to imposing the agreed-upon 15-year, six-month prison term, the judge heard statements from the two women who were shot.
Andrew Sheer, the brother of one of the shooting victims, Lane Sheer, read a statement written by his sister that described her long recovery process. The bullet hit Sheer’s spleen, liver, kidney and lung, fractured several bones and bruised her spinal cord, she wrote.
“The doctors cannot give me a concrete answer on when I’ll be fully healed or if that will happen,” Sheer wrote.
The other woman, Toni Yrlas, said she continues to feel anxiety in crowded, public places, as well as pain, discomfort and a lack of full mobility in her hand.