Lawyer says soldier shooting client was attacked

December 28, 2011 - 4:25 AM
Soldier Shot

An undated photo released by the San Bernardino Police Department shows Ruben Ray Jurado. Police Monday Dec. 26, 2011, arrested Jurado. Authorities allege Jurado shot Sullivan at the party Friday night, Dec. 23, 2011. (AP Photo/San Bernardino Police Department)

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — The lawyer for the 19-year-old California man charged with the attempted murder of an Afghanistan war veteran said his client was under attack when gunfire rang out.

Ruben Ray Jurado was charged Tuesday with attempted murder and multiple sentencing enhancements for using a firearm in the shooting that critically wounded Christopher Sullivan, 22, a Purple Heart recipient. He's expected to be arraigned this week.

Sullivan was home for the holidays at a homecoming party when authorities say a fight began over football. When Sullivan moved to break it up, police say, gunfire broke out.

Defense attorney Michael J. Holmes said Tuesday that he wanted to talk to his client and the district attorney before commenting further on the case.

"It appears that he was being attacked and he was on the ground and was being kicked in the back, stomach, the head, and that is consistent with the injuries that I observed," Holmes said. "It is alleged at that point that Mr. Sullivan was shot."

Authorities said Jurado, who had played football with Sullivan in high school, began arguing with Sullivan's brother over football teams at the party Friday night and then punched him. Sullivan intervened and Jurado pulled a gun and fired multiple shots, hitting Sullivan in the neck, police said.

Sullivan remains in critical condition. His relatives say the gunfire shattered his spine and left him paralyzed from the neck down.

"He's opening his eyes more," his 20-year-old brother Brandon Sullivan told The Associated Press. "We're just waiting day by day."

Sullivan was wounded in a suicide bombing attack last year while serving with the military in Afghanistan. He suffered a cracked collarbone and brain damage in the attack and had been recovering in Kentucky, where he is stationed, before coming home for the holidays.

Sullivan was a wrestler and football player in high school in San Bernardino, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. He had nine months to go in the military and then planned to become a firefighter or police officer. He always liked to help people, his brother said.

"Say there was a person at school who never had friends or nothing — Chris would be the person who would go up to him and try to be his friend. He didn't like people to feel alone," Brandon Sullivan said. "He always had a smile on his face."

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Associated Press writer Kristin M. Hall in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.