SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP/BCN) — A man charged in the gruesome deaths of two San Francisco jewelry store clerks and critically wounding the shop owner pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and other felony charges in a courtroom crowded with family members of the victims.
Prosecutors alleged 23-year-old Barry White Jr. of Antioch brutally attacked the victims because he believed he had overpaid a piece of jewelry by about $300.
Court papers said that after White fired several gunshots, then viciously cut a store clerk from ear to ear while nearly decapitating the other. The shop owner, who fought back, was slashed across his face and hands.
The July 12 attack at Victoga Inc., a jewelry store inside the San Francisco GiftCenter & JewelryMart at 888 Brannan Street in the city’s South of Market neighborhood, was captured by three different store surveillance cameras.
Prosecutors in their court filings said the surveillance cameras showed White waited for other customers to leave the store before he approached the counter with a revolver and shot owner Vic Hung three times and shot at clerk Lina Lim once.
White then went toward the store’s exit where clerk Khin Min was standing and allegedly shot her and cut her with a folding knife, then went back to the other two victims and attacked them with the knife, nearly decapitating Lim, according to prosecutors.
After reloading his revolver, White then left the jewelry store covered in blood and encountered officers who had responded to a report of shots fired. He shot at the officers but missed and eventually surrendered outside a nearby Mexican restaurant, police have said.
White entered the not guilty pleas Wednesday to 16 felony charges—two counts of murder, seven counts of attempted murder, six counts of assault on a police officer and one count of possessing an assault rifle. He remained in custody without bail and was to return to court on Sept. 24 for a hearing on evidence in the case.
Following the plea hearing, someone yelled “Murderer!” at White as he was led out of the courtroom, and Lim’s sister broke down in tears as she left court.
Annie Sin, a cousin of Lim, told reporters outside the courtroom that the hearing was very emotional for the family: “He can say ‘not guilty’ but we know justice will be served,” Sin said.
She said family members had initially wanted to see surveillance video of the attacks, but were told by authorities that the footage was too graphic for them to view. “They said even well-trained professionals had a hard time dealing with it,” Sin added.
Deputy Public Defender Steven Gayle, who is representing White, has previously told reporters that his client appeared to have a “serious mental breakdown” at the time of the killings.
White was previously charged with assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest for an August 2009 incident in Antioch in which he allegedly rammed an Antioch police vehicle with his car. An officer opened fire at him, and White later filed a civil rights lawsuit against Antioch police in 2011.
White was still awaiting trial on the charges in the 2009 case at the time of the JewelryMart killings.
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