A 48-year-old man has taken a plea deal after federal authorities accused him of wildly firing a pistol into the air and shooting at people along Market Street last October.
Alvin Merrite pleaded guilty in federal court last Wednesday to being a felon in possession of a firearm for illegally carrying a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol on Oct. 2, 2020 near Market and Montgomery streets, court records show.
San Francisco police arrested Merrite after responding to reports of gunfire near the intersection that night and finding him laying prone on the ground with a black pistol nearby, federal authorities said in the Feb. 11 complaint against him.
Based on witnesses and surveillance footage, authorities said Merrite was walking along Market Street when he encountered two men and grabbed one of the without provocation while “waving and firing a black pistol into the air.”
While both victims appeared to submit to the gunman, authorities said Merrite pointed the pistol at one of them and opened fire as the man attempted to “dodge the bullet and run away.” He then allegedly punched the other man repeatedly and “fired another shot in the air” while holding the pistol near his head.
Both victims escaped, but authorities said Merrite crossed the street and fired at a third victim who was walking away from him, striking a nearby building. No one appears to have been struck by gunfire.
It’s unclear what motivated the shooting. As of February, authorities said the investigation had revealed “no prior relationship existed between Merrite” and the first two victims.
Merrite initially pleaded not guilty to the gun charge, but authorities said he admitted to knowingly having the gun that night and firing it some four to five times. Court records show Merrite has at least two prior felony gun and drug convictions from out of state that date back to 1994 and bar him from carrying a firearm.
Merrite is being held at Santa Rita Jail. He is due back in court for sentencing June 9.