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Santa put on house arrest in Detroit shooting

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — The 26-year-old Detroit man accused of shooting two people at a gas station last month allegedly in self-defense while dressed as Santa was ordered Thursday on house arrest as part of new bond conditions requested by the Wayne County prosecutor.

Marcus Weldon is charged with shooting two men while wearing a Santa Claus suit at the Speedway gas station on East Jefferson near Larned Street on Dec. 21. Weldon's supporters say he was coming to the aid of his co-worker Erica Johnson, dressed as Mrs. Claus, who was being physically harassed by one of the men.

Weldon will be confined to his house from 2:45 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. daily which allows him to pick up his 5-year-old daughter from school. He will be able to attend church services on Sundays.

During the first part of the preliminary examination one of the men testified about the shooting incident that occurred just before 2 a.m. when Weldon, an electrical engineer apprentice for MGM Grand casino, and Johnson, also an employee at the casino, were coming from a Christmas party at the casino.

Salah Rifai, wearing bandages on his left arm from where he was shot, testified at the hearing before 36th District Court Judge Michael Wagner that he and Omar Pady had stopped at the gas station to buy water after "cruising" downtown. He testified that Pady bumped into the woman and then got into a heated exchange with Weldon at the customer window of the gas station.

Rifai said Weldon and Pady began arguing shortly after Pady bumped into the woman. Weldon and Pady started shoving one another and then he saw Weldon pull his revolver from his crotch area.

Pady started walking in the direction of his Dodge Charger where Rifai was sitting in the driver's seat. Rifai said he suddenly heard several gunshots coming in the car's direction.

Salah Rifai in court on Thursday.

"I froze," Rifai testified. "One of the bullets ripped my arm right off the steering wheel."

Rifai said Pady did not have a weapon or a baseball bat, as he stated in a police report that Pady did have in his vehicle.

Pady remains in critical condition from his gunshot wounds to the abdomen and chest area. Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Kelly Casper said his chance for survival is "50/50" and asked Wagner to increase Weldon's bond because the case could turn into a homicide if Pady doesn't survive.

"Mr. Pady is in the hospital with a machine breathing for him and there is only a 50/50 chance of him coming out of it," said Casper in asking Wagner to increase Weldon's $50,000, 10-percent bond.

Wagner said Pady's actions of bumping into Weldon's female friend did not justify Weldon responding with gunfire.

"What I've heard is incredibly disturbing," said Wagner Thursday. "When someone steps on someone's foot ... someone accidentally bumps someone, that is not a reason to pull a firearm and discharge it

Detroit Police officer Darius Shepard also took the stand to testify about the shooting. Shepard, who was off-duty at the time of the shooting, said he and his partner were coming from an office Christmas party when they stopped at the Speedway for gas. Shepard heard the argument between Weldon and Pady, then the gunshots and called 911.

"They were both yelling back and forth at each other," said Shepard. "They were both arguing and ended up pushing each other."

Shepard said he did not see Pady with a weapon. Weldon, who fled the scene after the shooting with the female co-worker, was arrested by plain clothes police officers a few blocks away from the gas station.

But Weldon's defense attorney, David Cripps, said his client was trying to defend himself against Pady. Cripps said he is hoping to locate a gas station clerk that was on duty that night who said he heard gunshots coming from the direction of Pady's vehicle.

"There was more than one gun out there," said Cripps in court Thursday.

Cripps says he is also hoping to get the surveillance video at the gas station that might show the shooting and the events leading up to it. He said after the hearing that "you don't have to wait till you're stabbed, shot or beat with a baseball bat to protect your life."

bwilliams@detnews.com

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