Accused murderer pleads not guilty in Downtown shooting that killed bystander

The man accused of killing a young woman with a stray bullet in Downtown Long Beach pleaded not guilty Thursday to a murder charge.

Thomas McCreary, 42, stood with his hands cuffed behind his back as he entered the plea. He’s being held without bail.

Authorities allege McCreary killed 24-year-old Anna Perez, who was just a bystander trying to get to her car after a night out with friends on Dec. 1.

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.

Police said McCreary got into an argument with a group of people in a parking lot near Fourth Street and Pacific Avenue around 2 a.m. that day.

He ended up firing multiple shots, authorities allege. The gunfire didn’t hit anyone except Perez, who wasn’t involved in the argument at all, according to her friends.

Perez was fun, loud and always ready with a joke, according to her friends, who started a fundraiser to cover funeral expenses.

“Anna was a beautiful, young, always smiling person,” friend Katie Michelle Sayre said.

Police arrested McCreary, a Sylmar resident, on Dec. 7. There’s no previous connection between the two, they said.

Prosecutors said McCreary is a parolee and was convicted of first-degree residential burglary in 2007.

He also faces up to 100 years to life in state prison if he’s convicted of the murder charge, which also carries a special allegation of personally and intentionally discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury and death.

Staff writer Valerie Osier contributed to this report.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram.