San Diego County

Man Who Posted Downtown Hotel Shooting Rehearsal Video Sentenced

Steve Homoki in San Diego Superior Court

A Spring Valley man who drew law enforcement attention for posting YouTube videos that appeared to show him rehearsing a mass shooting inside a downtown San Diego hotel room was sentenced Thursday to three years and eight months in state prison.

Steve Homoki, 32, was arrested in late 2019 after the FBI received a tip regarding a pair of YouTube videos recorded at The Sofia Hotel.

The videos, which were apparently recorded with a body camera, feature a first-person perspective of a man loading and aiming guns out a window at people walking along the streets below his hotel room.

In one video, he takes aim at a person walking outside, pulls the trigger -- to no effect -- and says, "One down, more to go.''

The videos were filmed in March 2019 and posted online about six months later.

Homoki was arrested shortly after authorities received the anonymous tip that December, though he was not charged in relation to the videos.

Homoki pleaded guilty last month to felony assault weapon possession and child abuse charges, as well as embezzlement and grand theft charges in an unrelated case in which prosecutors say he took money from his family's business.

NBC 7s Artie Ojeda has more

Defense attorney Oscar Valencia asked for a lenient sentence, saying a combination of mental health issues and alcohol abuse were central to his
client's conduct.

Since his incarceration, Valencia said Homoki has been able to obtain therapy and forced to remain sober.

"Mr. Homoki is really not a threat to society as long as he is a)sober and b) getting mental health services,'' Valencia said.

Valencia said Homoki has no prior criminal history and was "remorseful and he has taken responsibility.''

Deputy District Attorney Leonard Trinh said Homoki was using alcohol as an "excuse'' for what occurred. Trinh said Homoki was acting in a "very deliberate and planned manner'' in the videos and that he did not believe alcohol had any impact on either recording the videos or posting the videos online months later.

Trinh said Homoki was "extremely lucky that he didn't have an accidental discharge when he was filming these shootings -- these mock shootings -- from The Sofia Hotel.''

In a gun violence restraining order petition filed in late 2019, the person who provided the tip to police-reported noticing Homoki "slowly become less stable over the period of almost an entire year.''

The tipster believed Homoki had "gone off the deep end'' and was worried that he "is planning something or already has a plan,'' according to court documents.

Homoki repeated several times that he did not intend to harm anyone and was merely expressing his First Amendment rights by making the videos, which he said were never meant to be seen by the general public and had been "blown out of proportion.''

In the comments section on one of the YouTube videos, Homoki reportedly wrote, “Everything is fabricated for entertainment and none of these are intended for any audience. This is a private video. Shall not be published online for anyone to view and this is satire and not in any way shape or form to be taken seriously. Should children with toy guns deserve to get shot?”

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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