U.S. District Court

Mission Street Safeway gunman facing 70 months sentence

A man who used a handgun equipped with an extended magazine to threaten patrons of a San Francisco Safeway store was told he faces 70 months’ imprisonment in federal court today.

Julian Cisneros, 29, had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of ‘being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition’. The court heard that he had a lengthy track record of serious violence and was on post-release community supervision at the time of the offense.

“It’s a miracle to me that you didn’t kill somebody – it was blind luck,” U.S. District Judge James Donato told Cisneros this morning at a sentencing hearing.

On July 16, 2022 911 callers re­ported a man bran­dish­ing a gun at traf­fic and at peo­ple at the Safe­way store at Mis­sion and 30th streets. SFPD de­tained the de­fen­dant af­ter a foot chase dur­ing which he car­ried the firearm in his right hand.

A loaded Glock pis­tol fitted with an ex­tended mag­a­zine was re­cov­ered. The weapon had been stolen from an off-duty fed­eral po­lice of­fi­cer.

Wit­nesses told po­lice that Cis­neros “put them in fear for their lives” – in­clud­ing a car dri­ver who thought he was go­ing to be shot and a woman who said she saw Cis­neros point his weapon di­rectly at a per­son’s head.

Wit­nesses fur­ther re­ported the de­fen­dan­t’s claim that he was a gang mem­ber.

Se­cu­rity cam­era footage pre­sented to the court also recorded Cis­neros bran­dish­ing the weapon ear­lier in the evening while walk­ing up and down the street out­side of a Mis­sion Dis­trict bar.

Pros­e­cu­tors had pre­vi­ously told the court about the de­fen­dan­t’s lengthy rap sheet which in­cludes “con­vic­tions for threats with in­tent to ter­ror­ize, un­law­ful pos­ses­sion of a firearm, un­law­ful pos­ses­sion of am­mu­ni­tion, four counts of in­flict­ing cor­po­real in­jury on a spouse/​co­hab­i­tant, and as­sault by means of force.”

In par­tic­u­lar, they pointed out that in 2018 Cis­neros’ girl­friend re­ported that, over a three week pe­riod, he beat her mul­ti­ple times, tied her up with zip ties and took pho­tographs of her in the fe­tal po­si­tion point­ing a loaded AR-15 au­to­matic ri­fle at her head, used pli­ers to pinch her fin­gers and toes, and gag­ger her un­til she passed out.

She also de­scribed, pros­e­cu­tors say, that Cis­neros had pre­vi­ously stabbed her in the col­lar bone.

Cis­neros was on post re­lease com­mu­nity su­per­vi­sion at the time of the lat­est firearms of­fense.

“This is not a mere possession case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelsey Davidson told the court this morning, “…[t]hese are extremely dangerous acts and, combined with his past violent history, the Government believes a low guidelines range is appropriate.”

“Right now you are a terrible danger to innocent people…one of the factors I take into account is protecting innocent people from people like you.”

U.S. District Judge James Donato

“I can just imagine the terror of someone in their car and Mr Cisneros points a 9mm at their windshields,” said U.S. District Judge James Donato this morning in courtroom 11 of San Francisco federal courthouse.

“It’s a miracle to me that you didn’t kill somebody – it was blind luck.”

The judge announced he would impose a 70 months’ term of imprisonment, require three years of supervised release and forbid Cisneros for associating with any Norteno gang member.

“Right now you are a terrible danger to innocent people…one of the factors I take into account is protecting innocent people from people like you,” he said.

“70 months is an appropriate sentence that balances the severity and gravity of Mr Cisneros’ crime, and the serious threat he poses to others, and his youthfulness and ability to turn things around.”

The judge ordered attorneys for the defendant and the Government to return to court next week so he could additionally impose a warrantless search condition on Cisneros.

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