The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 10/09/2009 07:29:15 PM MDT
West Jordan » Moments before David Serbeck was left paralyzed by a bullet that severed his spinal cord, he identified himself as a Bluffdale neighborhood watch member and asked a raging Reginald Campos to calm down so they could talk, he testified Friday.
Serbeck, who came to the 3rd District Court preliminary hearing in a wheelchair, said he had placed his own pistol on the ground and kicked it away with his heel before Campos opened fire.
Campos, who was upset because Serbeck had been following his daughter earlier that night, told police he chambered a round and fired after hearing the sound of a pistol being "racked."
Campos, 43, is charged with first-degree felony attempted murder with injury for allegedly shooting the 36-year-old Serbeck shortly after midnight on July 22.
A certified public accountant with no criminal history, Campos is also charged with two counts of third-degree felony aggravated assault for pointing his gun at Serbeck and Serbeck's passenger, Troy Peterson, president of the Perry Farms homeowner's association.
After hearing the evidence, Judge Robert Adkins ordered Campos to stand trial on all three charges.
Testimony indicated the violent encounter stemmed from a misunderstanding on the part of Campos' 15-year-old daughter.
Earlier that night, the girl and a friend were on a walk while Serbeck and Peterson were driving around looking for suspicious vehicles. Serbeck said one girl jumped into the road, forcing him to swerve.
Serbeck said he told the girls, "Be safe going home," and drove on.
Later that night, Serbeck and Peterson saw a car similar to a suspicious one that had been seen in the neighborhood. Unaware Campos' daughter was driving, Serbeck followed the car to Redwood Road, trying to get a license plate number.
Meanwhile, a detective testified, the girl's friend called Campos to report they were being "chased" by two men in an SUV. Campos got his gun, drove to meet the girls and followed them home.
Campos told his daughter's friend to go inside, then he and his daughter drove off to look for the SUV, he told police.
The altercation occurred near 15200 South and Iron Horse Boulevard (1932 West), after Campos passed Serbeck, pulled in front and screeched to a halt, forcing Serbeck to slam on his brakes, Serbeck said.
Serbeck testified that Campos got out "waving a gun at us" and shouting about following his daughter. "I was trying to figure out why he was in such a rage," Serbeck said.
Even after Serbeck identified himself as a neighborhood watch member and said Peterson was with the homeowners association, Campos continued pointing the gun, pacing and yelling, Serbeck said.
When Campos lowered his voice and the gun, Serbeck, standing behind his car door, announced he was going to put down his own weapon.
Serbeck said he passed his gun from his right hand to his left, then squatted as he lowered it by the barrel. He kicked the gun away and stepped from behind the door, saying "Let's talk. What's going on?"
Then, Serbeck said, he heard a girl scream from inside Campos' vehicle, "Don't listen to him, he's lying!"
And Campos said, "How stupid do you think I am?"
"Then I heard gunshots," Serbeck said.
Peterson testified Friday that he didn't know Serbeck had brought a weapon until he saw the gun in his hand. "I'm thinking, 'Oh my heck, this is crazy,' " Peterson testified.
Peterson said events unfolded quickly: Campos raised his gun and asked, "What are you guys doing?" Serbeck replied, "Hold on a minute."
Then Campos began shooting, Peterson testified.
One bullet entered Serbeck's right shoulder and exited his back, leaving him paralyzed from mid-chest down.
Peterson said Campos then turned the gun on him. "I raised my hands and said, 'Don't shoot. Don't shoot,'" he said.
Officers found two guns in the street and two spent cartridges nearby.
Salk Lake County sheriff's Detective Paul Nielson testified Campos' 9 mm handgun had a bullet in the chamber and five in the magazine.
Serbeck's .45-caliber pistol had one bullet in the chamber and one in the magazine. Nielson said the safety lock was engaged, meaning the gun could not be "racked."
Serbeck -- who once trained as an Army sniper -- testified he chambered a round, then put the safety on, before putting the gun in his vehicle.
Nielson said Campos told him during an interview that Serbeck's gun was pointed toward the ground when Campos opened fire.
Campos briefly commented after Friday's hearing, saying his version is truthful.
"I can't say anything about the case, but I'm very optimistic that things will work out and the truth will come out," Campos said. "I'm telling the truth and that's it."