Man found guilty of murder for shooting innocent bystander in Downtown parking lot

Jurors on Wednesday convicted a Sylmar man of murder for firing his gun after a fight in a Downtown parking and fatally wounding a Long Beach woman who was an innocent bystander.

Thomas McCreary, 46, will be sentenced on Nov. 17. He faces a maximum of 25 years to life, along with additional time added after jurors also found him guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm and two penalty enhancements of personally and intentionally using a firearm to produce great bodily injury.

McCreary’s demeanor never changed as he was convicted of killing 24-year-old Anna Perez, who was out for a night with friends in 2018 when she was struck by a stray bullet around 2 a.m. in the parking lot near Pacific Avenue and Fourth Street.

Anna Perez, a 24-year-old Long Beach woman was killed by a stray bullet on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Photo courtesy Katie Michelle Sayre.

Anna Perez, a 24-year-old Long Beach woman, was killed by a stray bullet on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Photo courtesy Katie Michelle Sayre.

During trial, McCreary’s defense attorney, Ted Batsakis tried to convince the jury that his client was not guilty of murder because he never intended to shoot Perez and was instead provoked by an unrelated group of people who were attacking his car.

But after hearing testimony for about two weeks, which included how McCreary attempted to get rid of the evidence following the shooting, jurors rejected Batsakis’ argument.

“It’s tragic,” Batsakis said following the outcome.

During their case against McCreary, prosecutors showed gruesome photos of the night detectives found Perez’s body next to her friend’s car and brought in witnesses that were involved in the fight that prompted McCreary to get a gun from his car.

They also played jailhouse calls between McCreary and his then-girlfriend Samantha Kidd, where the two cryptically talked about the gun used in the shooting. Kidd has since been convicted of accessory after the fact for helping McCreary get rid of his gun, according to prosecutors.

After less than a day of deliberation, jurors came to a verdict.

On Wednesday afternoon, Perez’s friends and family filled the courtroom, some of them with large butterfly tattoos meant to represent her.

“She would always say: ‘If I die, I want to be a butterfly and travel the world,'” said Brenda Colon, Perez’s mother who herself has multiple butterfly tattoos in honor of her daughter, including a prominent gray one across her neck.

After the verdict, Colon couldn’t stop smiling. She said that since her daughter’s death, she had felt stuck.

“My heart doesn’t feel so heavy anymore,” Colon told the Post. “I waited three and a half years for this. Now I can go home and pick her up in her little urn and tell her she got justice.”

‘Beautiful, young, always smiling;’ woman killed by stray gunfire in Downtown was out with friends

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.