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Man allegedly fired his gun into the ground near people he was arguing with

A California man named Christopher Viatafa got a little more than he bargained for after performing a simple Google search. Perhaps out of boredom, Viatafa decided to Google himself only to find that he was on the “most wanted” criminals website in his area.
Viatafa found himself on the wrong side of the law after an August 2013 incident in which he got into an argument outside a senior center. Following the argument, he “pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and fired a few rounds into the ground near the people," according to a police statement.
Viatafa went about his daily routine for the next seven months unbeknownst to the fact that he was on Northern California's Most Wanted website.

Captured? He turned himself in...
When he found that he was listed on the site, he promptly turned himself into the police. "Although it wasn't good judgment that landed him on the website, he did used good judgment to turn himself in after seeing his photo," San Leandro Police said in a statement.
Viatafa has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and listed as a captured fugitive.
"The website played an important part in his apprehension," said police. "[It] has been a valuable tool for both law enforcement and the public in finding criminals."

Sources: ABC News, The Independent, Northern California Regional Intelligence Center

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By Reclaimer77 on 3/17/2014 10:26:44 AM , Rating: 5
Not defending what he allegedly did, but how in the hell is that even remotely "assault with a deadly weapon"?

RE: wtf?
By drycrust3 on 3/17/2014 11:02:18 AM , Rating: 4
Well, not knowing much about American laws ... a fire arm is a deadly weapon ... and a gun discharge in close proximity to a hearing aid could easily break it, and they aren't cheap.

RE: wtf?
By rpsgc on 3/17/2014 11:03:08 AM , Rating: 3
He assaulted the ground.

RE: wtf?
By SublimeSimplicity on 3/17/2014 11:50:42 AM , Rating: 5
Shooting at Mother Nature in CA is a serious crime.

RE: wtf?
By amanojaku on 3/17/2014 12:08:01 PM , Rating: 5
First came the Crips (blue).

Then the Bloods (red).

Here come the Enviros (green). You disrespect Ma and we gonna bust a cap in that grass.

RE: wtf?
By SublimeSimplicity on 3/17/2014 12:13:30 PM , Rating: 5
You come with the LOLs, but look at the current Most Wanted list (on linked site).

#4 and #5 are wanted for "Recycling Fraud". I can only assume they put styrofoam in with the bin marked for paper. Both are higher on the list than fugitives wanted for the less serious crimes like murder and child molestation.

RE: wtf?
By GTVic on 3/17/14, Rating: 0
RE: wtf?
By Fujikoma on 3/17/2014 5:28:26 PM , Rating: 1
It could also be turning in soda cans/bottles (in large quantities) from states that don't have a deposit.

RE: wtf?
By ven1ger on 3/19/2014 3:20:17 PM , Rating: 2
When criminals destroy public property to steal copper wiring, they put the public at risk. Copper stealing is not petty and costs the taxpayers money and time, and in some cases can lead to accidents especially if traffic control is affected.

RE: wtf?
By laviathan05 on 3/17/2014 11:05:30 AM , Rating: 5
"[A]ssault is the act of creating apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact with a person."
Battery is an act of physical violence. Probably would have been charged with Attempted Murder/Manslaughter if he had actually hit a person.

Anyways, assault with a deadly weapon is absolutely the correct criminal charge in this case.

RE: wtf?
By retrospooty on 3/17/2014 11:15:44 AM , Rating: 5
Looks like a bit blown out of proportion. So lets assume the guy was threatening with a gun and fired it into the ground. OK, against the law, arrest warrant, and cops visit his door to investigate, and do whatever the law dictates they do... But on the state's "most wanted" list? CA is a huge state, the most populated in the US with 38 million people. There are wealthy areas, poverty stricken areas and everything in between, there are many high crime areas, murders etc as you would expect any place with 38 million people to have. To be on the "most wanted" list for firing a gun into the ground is beyond ridiculous.

RE: wtf?
By niva on 3/17/2014 2:01:25 PM , Rating: 2
The firing of the gun is a separate charge. Assault was the moment he threatened with the gun.

Imagine yourself in an argument with someone who takes out a gun. Pretend you're not in Florida or Texas where this is the start of World War 3. The threat of use of the gun is a pretty extreme thing...

That being said, the fact that this places someone on the top of the most wanted list is crazy. Also the fact that the police couldn't capture this guy shows how hard they're working at it, the guy turned himself in. Hope he gets off lightly and doesn't do anything that silly again.

RE: wtf?
By Samus on 3/18/2014 2:23:19 AM , Rating: 2
Criminals like this should be treated with a lot more leniency than other criminals because it would set a good example, and to not be more lenient sets a bad precedent.

Obviously nobody here is condoning what he did, but in all fairness, it sounds like what he did was more of a public disturbance than assault. Assault's if you point a gun at somebody, and it sounds like he simply scared somebody off.

RE: wtf?
By ammaross on 3/19/2014 9:22:03 AM , Rating: 3
I think the point you're missing is that the police put him on the most wanted list, however, he was doing his normal routine for NINE MONTHS. Wouldn't the police at least check his place of employment? Last known address? Talk to relatives? Surely someone who was just going about their day-to-day would be easy to find. Granted, he also could have been unemployed, living with a friend, and had no vehicle.

RE: wtf?
By amanojaku on 3/17/2014 11:22:28 AM , Rating: 1
The legal definition of assault is the threat to cause bodily harm plus the ability to carry out that threat. He had an argument with someone, shot a few rounds into the ground with a semiautomatic (there were people around), then went outside and shot a few more rounds (there were more people around). Without hearing more details, that could fit a broad definition of assault with a deadly weapon.

At the very least, he'll be hit with reckless endangerment and/or criminal negligence. Remember, this is California, home of the Chicken Littles, not Alaska, where even the mamma grizzlies pack heat. Any excuse will be used to get his license revoked, even if it means trumping up the charges. If shooting in self-defense could still result in losing your license then he can't justify shooting to let off some steam.

RE: wtf?
By DanNeely on 3/17/2014 11:45:53 AM , Rating: 5
Even in the gun friendly US South this idiot would be toast. Firing a gun is legally the use of deadly force, even if you were only firing a warning shot. The use of deadly force is only permitted if you're in fear of imminent harm to yourself or others. However the act of firing anywhere other than at the person who is making the threat indicates that the threat wasn't imminent, which in turn means that your firing the gun isn't legally justified.

RE: wtf?
By retrospooty on 3/17/2014 12:01:25 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, and and if he was gone when the cops arrived an arrest warrant should have been issued, like you would expect would happen. How did this get on the "most wanted" list?

RE: wtf?
By chmilz on 3/17/14, Rating: 0
RE: wtf?
By MrBlastman on 3/17/2014 11:39:59 AM , Rating: 2
It might not be assault but it was stupidity. Never discharge a firearm unless you intend to kill something, be it a target or a lifeform. Also, always make sure that there are no unintended targets within the potential flight path beyond the point of initial discharge.

The second point above is one I think most gun owners should be careful with. Just because you shoot a target/animal/object/whatever... doesn't mean the bullet will stop. It could travel beyond the point of impact with reduced velocity but still have enough energy to be lethal.

It might be cute in the movies to shoot at people's feet and make them dance but in the real world, there are real consequences if it harms other people or property around them.

Perhaps he could be charged with reckless endangerment or willful negligence and required to take a firearms training course plus anger management or something as his consequence?

RE: wtf?
By AntiM on 3/17/2014 11:50:46 AM , Rating: 1
Not defending what he allegedly did, but how in the hell is that even remotely "assault with a deadly weapon"?

That's how our legal system works. They charge you with a much more serious crime in the hope that you will plead guilty to a lesser charge. He will probably get a lawyer and agree to a plea bargain where he pleads guilty to illegally discharging a firearm or something like that.

RE: wtf?
By Arsynic on 3/17/2014 11:52:55 AM , Rating: 1
It's California. When he shot the ground that's probably harming the environment in some way.

In California the environment > human beings.

RE: wtf?
By Manch on 3/17/2014 12:17:23 PM , Rating: 2
Yes the lead bullet has now dissolved into the water supply where people will drink it and become violent thus continuing the circle of violence.....sigh

After the assault charge, he will face other charges. Maybe an attempted mass murder of the endangered California earth worm when he shot up their home in the dirt below and violations of a few EPA regulations to make him a federal convict.

RE: wtf?
By tayb on 3/17/2014 11:55:17 AM , Rating: 3
You are confused between battery and assault.

Assault - Creating apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact with a person.

Battery - Unlawful physical contact.

Deadly Weapon - A statutory definition listing certain items which can inflict mortal or great bodily harm.

In this case this man discharged a gun (deadly weapon) in the vicinity of others (and near a residential dwelling) during an argument.

Assault requires no physical contact.

RE: wtf?
By MZperX on 3/17/2014 1:32:59 PM , Rating: 2
This. Charge was appropriate. Not sure why he ended up on the Most Wanted list though. Slow day at the State Police office? One would think there are more serious offenders in California...

RE: wtf?
By pandemonium on 3/18/2014 12:58:13 AM , Rating: 3
Not to mention, this says a lot about how terrible their tracking is on "Most Wanted". Obviously, he wasn't wanted that mostly.

RE: wtf?
By bsd228 on 3/17/2014 4:37:27 PM , Rating: 2
Not defending what he allegedly did, but how in the hell is that even remotely "assault with a deadly weapon"?

Why am I completely unsurprised to see this came from Reclaimer?

Merely brandishing his weapon to escalate (or silence his opponent) a verbal argument would have qualified - shooting towards the others makes it brain dead obvious. If you think this charge is somehow an attack on gun rights - you're barking mad.

RE: wtf?
By Reclaimer77 on 3/17/14, Rating: 0
RE: wtf?
By pandemonium on 3/18/2014 1:00:59 AM , Rating: 2
He probably had them crazy eyes according to witnesses.

RE: wtf?
By LRonaldHubbs on 3/18/2014 10:34:53 AM , Rating: 2
Did you bother to read the text in the photo? No, of course you didn't...

It says "for discharging a firearm towards an inhabited dwelling."

By inighthawki on 3/17/2014 11:18:56 AM , Rating: 5
I'm curious. Given that it sounds like he wasn't really trying to hide - Did the police not even bother checking his house/apartment to see if he was there? I mean, if he was really a "most wanted" criminal, it sure sounds like they didn't put much effort into catching him :)

RE: So...
By Newspapercrane on 3/17/2014 11:41:16 AM , Rating: 5
That's my thought. It says a lot about your police force when one of the most wanted criminals in your state can evade the police by "Going about his Daily Routine" while not even knowing that he's one of the most wanted.

RE: So...
By MrBlastman on 3/17/2014 12:20:37 PM , Rating: 1
Then why did he stop showing up for work after the incident?

By ianweck on 3/17/2014 11:08:24 AM , Rating: 2
Why are the other faces blurred out? If they're wanted for something then their privacy shouldn't be a concern. Maybe someone on Dailytech will recognize one of them?

RE: blurred?
By inighthawki on 3/17/2014 11:14:55 AM , Rating: 2
Or more importantly you can click the link right above it and see everything. My best guess is DT did it to place emphasis on which picture it was supposed to be.

RE: blurred?
By carigis on 3/17/2014 3:55:28 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe they hoped no one would notice 9 out of the 10 most wanted are black guys?

RE: blurred?
By HomerTNachoCheese on 3/18/2014 1:59:06 PM , Rating: 2
Did you even look at the most wanted? None of the first 10 are black. Overall, roughly 20% were black. That is roughly - I am not bothering to confirm each person.

RE: blurred?
By jRaskell on 3/20/2014 5:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
So even though only about 20% of the most wanted are black, 90% of the fugitives on the captured list are black. That's a curious bias... to put it mildly.

By jp123 on 3/17/2014 12:40:46 PM , Rating: 2
But I did not know this department existed - "Oakland Police Department for Sex Penetration with Foreign Object"

I feel like there is more to the story. How can you be on the most wanted list and not know it and how do they police not walk up to your door and arrest you?

RE: Unrelated...
By SublimeSimplicity on 3/17/2014 12:52:45 PM , Rating: 3
But I did not know this department existed - "Oakland Police Department for Sex Penetration with Foreign Object"

If I'm wanted by them... I'm turning myself in to a different department.

valuable tool?
By daboom06 on 3/17/2014 10:15:15 AM , Rating: 2
hahaha. that quote was misplaced. or am i mistaken thinking that few (read: no) criminals are apprehended because they turn themselves in after finding out through a website that they're criminals?

"captured fujitive"
By purerice on 3/19/2014 8:55:33 PM , Rating: 2
"Captured" = One who is caught, forcibly detained
"Fugitive" = One who flees

So how was he a captured fugitive? Furthermore, the website would not have worked at all had he not turned himself in, which most people wouldn't do. If I were his judge and he were convicted, I would consider his sentence shortened to free due to his good behavior (of turning himself in).

You need editors
By Solandri on 3/17/14, Rating: -1
RE: You need editors
By Solandri on 3/18/2014 2:25:46 PM , Rating: 1
Can someone explain to me why this got rated to -1? I thought I was doing Shane a favor by pointing out some problems with the grammar.

If I'm wrong about the grammar, I'd love to be told why so I don't continue making the mistake.

RE: You need editors
By HomerTNachoCheese on 3/18/2014 2:40:34 PM , Rating: 2
Since you were knocking the grammar of the article, I would have deducted a point simply for the inconsistent use of single and double quotes in the same sentence, similarly to how I got knocked for a double word. Your first sentence is seems to be missing a subject. After "Also," I would have added "with" for better sentence structure.

But then again, maybe you got hit by the -1 trolls who are targeting you specifically.

RE: You need editors
By HomerTNachoCheese on 3/18/2014 2:30:48 PM , Rating: 1
Grammar Police... I just don't feel good good when they are around.

RE: You need editors
By HomerTNachoCheese on 3/18/2014 2:32:20 PM , Rating: 2
Nice. Now I get double words when using italics.

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