(Courtesy photo)

Prosecutors: Drunken man playing with gun killed friend driving on Polk Street

A San Francisco man killed his friend while drunkenly waving a pistol around to the tune of the music in the backseat of a car, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Victor Sosa, 23, was driving near Polk and Sutter streets soon after the bars closed early Saturday when his passenger, 28-year-old Jose Manuel Beltran, allegedly fired the gun through the driver’s seat and struck him in the torso.

Sosa cried out in pain as blood seeped from his body, according to prosecutors. Another friend in the front passenger’s seat managed to stop the car before Beltran allegedly took off and ditched the gun.

Prosecutors described the alleged drunken mishap in court records filed Wednesday.

Beltran is facing felony involuntary manslaughter and six other counts related to illegal gun possession, including one felony count of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. Beltran has a misdemeanor conviction from 2009 for carrying a concealed handgun.

Sosa was the father of a child, according to court records. On a GoFundMe page collecting funds in his honor, his mother said Sosa came from a “very humble family of low resources” from Guatemala.

Beltran briefly appeared in court at the Hall of Justice on Wednesday alongside an attorney from the Public Defender’s Office. He has not been assigned a permanent attorney and is scheduled to enter a plea Friday.

Judge Robert Foley ordered that Beltran be held without bail pending a future hearing.

Prosecutor Michael Swart called the situation “predictable” and “avoidable” in court records. Swart said Beltran had already been drinking when he met with Sosa and a female friend at a bar while armed with the pistol.

Beltran would later tell police he purchased the gun illegally and carried it for protection, according to court records.

After the bar closed at 2 a.m., the three friends were driving around San Francisco looking for alcohol when Beltran told Sosa about a bar in the Tenderloin where they could drink, Swart alleged.

The prosecutor said Beltran pulled out the gun in the backseat because it was uncomfortable in his waistband. He was drunkenly playing with the weapon despite the female friend telling him to put it away.

After the gun went off, the female friend stopped the car from the front passenger seat and screamed for help.

Swart said Beltran “stated he was sorry but immediately fled the scene and discarded the handgun.”

The female friend stayed and told homicide investigators that she believed the shooting was an accident.

Beltran turned himself in to police the following day. Swart said he copped to playing with the gun but told police “he did not know how the gun went off.”

The shooting marked the 35th homicide of the year in San Francisco.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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