San Diego

Verdict in 2017 Killing of Active Duty Navy Pilot

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. James Celani was shot outside of a comedy club at Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego on June 10, 2017

A documented gang member was convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday nearly two years after the shooting death of an active-duty U.S. Navy pilot. 

Arrow Morris, 39, shot and killed U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. James Celani outside of a comedy club at Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego on June 10, 2017. 

Celani, 43, was shot twice in the head and once in the chest and rushed to the UC San Diego Medical Center but was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Investigators say Morris was arguing with a woman outside the club when he grabbed the woman's purse and walked away.

As he walked away from the club, he bumped into the victims: Celani and his cousin and without provocation, he shot both victims, police said.

Celani was a Navy pilot who served 20 years in the military and worked with drone technology before his death. 

“He helped develop the curriculum and tactics we use on the battlefield. So a very integral part of Naval Special Warfare," former co-worker Ed Hiner said when he described the victim in a 2017 interview.

Photo of James Celani.

Morris was convicted of attempted murder in connection with a second victim, a 29-year-old Riverside resident, who was shot in the leg.

Morris was arrested two days after the shooting in Serra Mesa.

Officers said he has been in and out of jail four times in the last 20 years. 

The sentencing was set for May 20.

Ed. Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified James Celani as a Navy SEAL. We have corrected the information and regret the error. 

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