A man accused of a fatal shooting in San Francisco over a PlayStation 4 game console made his initial appearance in court today to face charges of murder and attempted robbery. Ronnie Collins, 21, is accused of shooting 22-year-old Ikenna Uwakah at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday near Mendell Street and Galvez Avenue in the city’s Bayview District. Collins declined to enter a plea to the charges today and will return to court on Monday.
During Collins’ arraignment in San Francisco Superior Court this afternoon, Assistant District Attorney Scot Clark laid out the case against the defendant, whom he referred to as a “Christmastime predator.” Clark said Uwakah’s girlfriend had arranged via the social media website Instagram to sell the PS4 to Collins, who asked to meet up in the Bayview because he said he had no means of transportation. The girlfriend agreed and went with Uwakah to an area near a Walgreens store on Third Street, where they texted Collins, who tried to get the girlfriend to meet him alone nearby at Youngblood-Coleman Playground, Clark said.
When she refused, Collins eventually decided to meet up with the pair near the park and approached the victims’ car, Clark said. But instead of pulling out cash for the gaming console, according to the prosecutor, Collins allegedly pulled out a gun and pointed it at Uwakah. According to Clark, Uwakah pushed the gun away and said Collins could have the PS4, but Collins said “Nah,” then fired four shots at Uwakah. Uwakah was hit by the gunfire in both arms and the torso. He later died at San Francisco General Hospital while his girlfriend was uninjured, police said.
Investigators eventually tracked down Collins, who used his real name and picture on Instagram, at a home on Underwood Avenue. He tried to flee but was taken into custody, along with a cellphone that had evidence of his communication with the girlfriend, Clark said. The prosecutor said Collins does not have a lengthy criminal record but is “a danger to the public” and asked for bail to be set at $5 million. Deputy Public Defender Mark Jacobs said he “is going to vigorously oppose these charges,” and complained to the judge about Clark’s reference to the defendant as a “Christmastime predator.”
“We don’t need people to be demonized before they have a chance to sit in front of a jury,” Jacobs said outside of court. Judge Rochelle East agreed to set the bail at $5 million bail for Collins, who only spoke briefly during today’s hearing to agree to delay his arraignment until Monday. Members of Uwakah’s family and supporters of Collins both attended this afternoon’s hearing but declined to speak to reporters outside of court.
District Attorney George Gascon said after the hearing that the case was “really very disturbing.” “It occurred in one of our parks in pretty much broad daylight,” Gascon said. He encouraged potential buyers and sellers of goods to vet the person they are dealing with and to go to populated areas such as shopping centers or police stations. Clark, the prosecutor handling the case, said he stood by the characterization of Collins as a “Christmastime predator.” “It’s the very antithesis of the season of giving,” he said.
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