Man pleads not guilty in Chinese Consulate shooting

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 20, 2011 10:18 PM
Man pleads not guilty in Chinese Consulate shooting

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Chinese-born man who police described as a human rights protester pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to shooting at the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles in a burst of gunfire that struck the building but left no one hurt.

Jeff Baoliang Zhang, 67, a naturalized U.S. citizen who now lives in Las Vegas, was charged on Monday with assault with a semiautomatic firearm and with shooting at an inhabited dwelling.

Zhang turned himself in to authorities last Thursday, about three hours after the mid-afternoon shooting. He is accused of approaching a guard at the consulate, located in the city's Koreatown neighborhood, and opening fire with a 9-mm handgun.

The security officer, Cipriano Gutierrez, told reporters afterward that the gunman had fired at least nine rounds.

Los Angeles police spokesman Richard French said Zhang had been "part of a small protest related to human rights in mainland China."

"Acting independently from the other protesters, he opened fire on the consulate building and then drove away in his car," French said. Authorities have not offered any possible motive for the shooting.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered Zhang, who listened to Tuesday's proceedings through a Mandarin interpreter, to remain jailed in lieu of $400,000 bail. He is due back in court on January 5 for the setting of a preliminary hearing in the case.

He faces more than 20 years in state prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Tim Gaynor)