A 19-year-old man who accidentally shot himself during an alleged attempt to kill a black employee at an auto parts store pleaded not guilty Wednesday to attempted murder and hate crime charges.
Rudy Arana allegedly brought a sawed-off shotgun to the Autozone store at 12660 Palm Drive last Thursday and announced he was there “to kill a n—- r,” according to Desert Hot Springs police Chief Dale Mondary.
Employees told police that Arana appeared at the store around 7:15 a.m. looking for his co-worker. They said he wasn’t working that day and asked if they could deliver a message, which is when Arana allegedly made the threat using the racial epithet, Mondary said.
After continuing to loiter near the store, Arana saw the employee he was seeking when the worker left the store to take out the trash, the chief said. He allegedly pulled the shotgun out of his waistband, then accidentally shot himself in the lower torso as the other employees were trying to wrestle the gun from him.
No other injuries were reported.
Mondary said the victim, whose name was withheld, alleged that Arana had been threatening him for two weeks.
Arana was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries of unknown severity and was later placed under arrest. He was charged Tuesday and initially scheduled to be arraigned that afternoon but was not medically cleared to appear in court until Wednesday morning.
Arana is being held at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning in lieu of $1 million bail, according to court and jail records.