A man who was shot by a sheriff’s deputy while firing a gun into the air at the Del Mar Fairgrounds — because he couldn’t get a ticket to last fall’s sold-out Ice Cube concert — pleaded guilty Wednesday, Jan. 23 to discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner.
Daniel Elizarraras, 22, of Escondido also admitted he personally used a firearm outside the concert venue on Sept. 2. He faces up to three years in state prison.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Kathleen Lewis set his sentencing date for March 4.
Elizarraras, who appeared in court to enter his guilty plea, still carries a deputy’s bullet lodged near his spine, Deputy District Attorney David McNees said.
Deputy Tyler Eikermann shot Elizarraras four times: three times in his torso, once in an arm. Elizarraras was taken to a trauma center and later was arraigned in the hospital.
His plea deal was struck on the day a preliminary hearing was to begin for a judge to determine whether there was enough evidence against Elizarraras to hold him for trial.
In exchange for the guilty plea to one charge, prosecutors dismissed an additional charge of assault on a peace officer with a semi-automatic pistol and an allegation of personal use of a firearm.
McNees said Elizarraras could have faced up to 19 years in prison if he had been convicted of both charges and the allegations.
Sheriff’s officials said in statements after the shooting that Elizarraras went to the fairgrounds ticket window about 6:40 p.m., hoping to buy a ticket to the rapper’s concert.
He became upset when he was told no tickets were available, and argued with the staff, authorities said.
Deputies moved toward the sound of the dispute and saw Elizarraras pull out a silver-plated semi-automatic and fire several rounds into air near the crowd, authorities said.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said after a previous hearing that a deputy first tried to use a Taser on Elizarraras, then pulled his firearm when the Taser deployment was ineffective.
“At that point — before any shots were fired by the sheriffs — the defendant in this case turned and lowered his right hand, turned and pointed toward the deputy with a firearm, resulting in the deputy shooting the suspect four times,” Runyon said.
Another sheriff’s deputy and a sergeant were there but did not open fire.
The shooting broke out just after the 10th race at the track. In a TVG broadcast of the race posted on Twitter, an announcer can be heard repeatedly saying, "There's gunfire at the track,” as horses continued along the turf course after passing the finish line.
Cellphone videos posted on Twitter showed a chaotic scene as the deputy fired the four rounds.
The sold-out concert, drawing about 18,000 people, got started about 8:30 p.m.
Ice Cube weighed in on the shooting on Twitter the following day.
“I feel bad for the people who left the show, but totally understand,” he tweeted. “Moral of the story: Come see ya homie Cube…but leave the strap at home.” Strap is slang for gun.
The show was part of the 2018 Del Mar Summer Concert Series. The concerts take place at the Seaside Stage, which is located near the west end of the racetrack's grandstand.
--- Pauline Repard is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune.