San Francisco
U.S. District Court

55 month sentence for gang member in 50-round SF shootout

A gang member with a horrific record of violence was sentenced to 55 months imprisonment today after opening fire on two people during a Mission district gunfight in November 2021.

James Pegueros pulled a gun from an ankle holster during a fight outside Pop’s Bar on 24th Street. SFPD recovered 50 expended rounds from the scene and residents reported gunshot damage to their homes and cars. A gas line was also pierced.

When the ‘York Street Mob’ Norteno was arrested one month after the shooting he was in possession of a loaded gun equipped with a high-capacity magazine. Other firearms were discovered in a later search of his home and an automobile. 

Pegueros, 33, was on supervised release at the time of the incident having been sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment in 2016 for firearms and drugs offenses. He had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of being a ‘felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition’ and admitted to probation violations.

“I sit here trying to figure out how do I protect society,” said U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer this morning. “Even if it were, as you characterize, self-defense…to have a shoot out on a street corner where there are a lot of people – firing ten rounds is extremely dangerous.”

Security camera footage captured Pegueros embroiled in a “physical altercation” involving several people outside Pop’s Bar just after 10pm on November 21, 2021. After falling to the ground, he is shown drawing a firearm from an ankle holster and firing “in the direction of two people.”

According to prosecutors the video also shows one of those other people holding a gun in each hand and firing both into the air at the same time. The third person is also shooting another gun in to the air. On arrival at the scene SFPD officers found 50 spent cartridges.

Prosecutors say that Pegueros himself fired at least 10 times. The bar was playing host to a memorial vigil for a recently deceased person.

An investigation revealed that a nearby Ford Explorer and a Tesla were struck by bullets. Another bullet went through the bedroom window of a nearby home, ricocheting off the ceiling and embedding itself in a wall. PG&E responded to a repair a gas line that had been pierced by gunfire and was leaking.

Pegueros was arrested one month later near to his home. A search of his backpack uncovered a tan-colored FN 5.7 semiautomatic pistol and a high-capacity magazine. A later search of his residence turned-up a stolen Glock pistol and a ghost gun in his brother’s bedroom. In a Pontiac parked in a “detached” garage, officers found an AR-15 rifle on which Pegueros’ DNA was found on the grip and on the magazine.

Guns found during searches after Pergueros’ arrest

This is the fourth occasion that Pegueros has been before a court charged with unlawful firearm possession. At the time of the incident he was on supervised release having been sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment in 2016 for firearms and drugs offenses.

Prosecutors has asked the court to impose a 71 month sentence – at the upper end of the guideline range for his offenses. For their part, Pegueros’ attorney invited the court to consider a ‘time served’ term, followed by drug treatment, praying-in-aid that his judgment was impaired owing to a combination of drug use and grief over a friend’s death and that there was an element of self-defense.

Sentencing Pegueros to 55 months’ imprisonment, Judge Breyer noted that one of the issues with judicial leniency is that it doesn’t affect judges, who are perfectly safe, but instead can have consequences for others in the community.

“People say ‘oh, Judge, you really don’t understand what it’s like on the streets of San Francisco in certain communities – people have to carry a gun to protect themselves’ and, given the equation ‘jail time versus being killed’, they are going to carry a gun.”

“That’s a correct calculus from their point of view.”

“But what’s my job? Do I just say: okay, I understand, time served, don’t do it again?”

“Sometimes, regrettably, individuals who have all of their reasons…they must unfortunately subordinate those in a judge’s mind to trying to protect society.”

“It was extremely dangerous behavior.”

“He knew he shouldn’t have gone, and he knew something bad would happen, and what he thought would happen, happened,” the judge added.

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