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A man accused of killing two people in a crash that occurred as he was allegedly fleeing from police after a gang-related shooting in San Francisco’s Mission District on New Year’s Day pleaded not guilty to murder charges today. David Morales, 19, was arraigned this morning on charges of murder, attempted murder, evading police, possession of a firearm by a felon and gang enhancements.
He is being held without bail because he violated his probation for a prior conviction in San Mateo County, and will return to court Jan. 29 for a status hearing in the San Francisco case. At about 7:45 a.m. on Jan. 1, Morales was allegedly driving through the Valencia Gardens housing complex at 14th and Guerrero streets when he opened fire on three people but missed them, police said.
Witnesses called police and described the shooter’s vehicle, and officers spotted it and tried to pull it over at 21st and Mission streets. But Morales allegedly sped away, heading east on 21st Street. A short time later, he ran into a car driving north on South Van Ness Avenue, sending that car crashing into a pedestrian and a liquor store on the northeast corner of the intersection, according to police.
Silvia Tuncun, 29, a passenger in that vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene, as was the pedestrian, 26-year-old Francisco Gutierrez, who was walking into the store at the time of the crash. The driver of the car in which Tuncun was riding remains at a hospital in serious condition, police said. Morales was also hospitalized with minor injuries, and a handgun was found in his car, according to police.
District Attorney George Gascon has said Morales faces a potential sentence of more than 200 years in prison if convicted on all charges. Morales’ attorney, Deputy Public Defender Stephen Olmo, said prosecutors are “overreaching” by filing murder charges in the case.
Olmo said his client “is very upset over the whole matter.” “He is not a callous person,” he said. The district attorney’s office has pledged to assist the victims’ families, and is working to gather funds for them and help the injured driver’s Guatemalan father obtain a visa to visit his son.
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