Man Who Attempted to Kill Police Officer, Woman during Hours-Long Costa Mesa Shooting Rampage Sentenced to 21 years in State Prison Orange County District Attorney’s Office objected to lenient sentence, judge striking firearms enhancements and premeditation and deliberation allegations


Date:  March 18, 2022
Case # 20WF0017


Kimberly Edds

Public Information Officer

Office: 714-347-8405, Cell: 714-504-1917

Santa Ana, Calif. – A 26-year-old man who survived being shot in the face by police after firing on a police officer and holding a woman at gunpoint during an hours-long New Year’s Eve standoff was sentenced today to a court offer of 21 years in state prison. Prosecutors objected to the lenient sentence, arguing the shooting rampage that endangered numerous innocent victims was premediated, necessitating a much longer prison sentence.

In a sentencing brief opposing the court’s offer, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office asked for a sentence of 35 years to life for the premeditated attempted murder of a police officer plus 20 years for personally discharging a firearm.

Steven Taylor Fernandez, 26, of San Diego, was charged with one felony count of attempted murder of a peace officer, one felony count of attempted murder, five felony counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, one felony count of criminal threats, one felony count of vandalism, and one felony count of carrying a loaded firearm in public. He was also charged with one felony count of discharging a firearm at an inhabited building, one felony count of grossly negligent discharge of a firearm, and one misdemeanor charge of brandishing a firearm capable of being concealed.

Fernandez was also charged with five felony enhancements of personal use of a firearm during the commission of a serious felony, one felony enhancement of attempted premeditated murder, two felony enhancements of personally using a firearm, and two felony enhancements of discharge of a firearm.

On December 31, 2019, at approximately 3:30 p.m., Fernandez armed himself with two semi-automatic firearms and ran through a residential neighborhood on a shooting rampage because he was upset that a woman, he had romantic feelings for was seeing other men. Prior to going on the shooting spree, Fernandez called a friend and indicated that he was going to walk down the street with two guns strapped to his chest and “see what kind of trouble he could get into.”

Additionally, Fernandez explained that he could easily kill a mother, father, and their two young children who he was watching walk by the house and that no one would say anything. Fernandez also expressed a desire to do “whatever was necessary” to make the police kill him. After stealing the two pistols from the home of a friend that was letting him stay with her, Fernandez proceeded to walk through the neighborhood in broad daylight with the guns visible.

At the start of the rampage, Fernandez came across a victim who was standing in his driveway. When Fernandez saw the victim, he pointed one of the guns into the air and fired a round. Fernandez then ran into an adjacent neighbor’s yard and shot twice: one round went into the house and the other round hit an unoccupied vehicle.

A Costa Mesa police officer responding to the shooting rampage turned a corner in his patrol vehicle and found himself face to face with Fernandez who was standing in the yard of a residence. Fernandez shot at the officer four times, but the rounds only struck the police vehicle.

After being shot at, the officer exited his vehicle and took cover and called for backup as he was terrified that he was “pinned down.” Fernandez shot at the officer two more times before running away.

Fernandez pointed one of the guns at another victim standing on a driveway and yelled “boom” before running further into the neighborhood. He then ran inside another neighbor’s house through an unlocked door and continued into the backyard where a woman was standing. Fernandez pointed two guns at the woman and told her “lie down right now. Don’t move or I’m going to kill you.” She laid on her stomach as Fernandez pointed both guns to her head. He then jumped the wall into another yard.

Fernandez then entered another garage. Shortly thereafter, a woman came home and opened the garage door to park her car. Fernandez shot two rounds at her from inside the garage that struck her vehicle. The woman backed out of the driveway and fled. Fernandez remained inside the garage until he was shot in the face by SWAT when he pointed a gun at two SWAT officers.

“The reign of terror unleashed on a Costa Mesa neighborhood by a violent criminal armed with two guns with nothing to lose is terrifying,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “He tried repeatedly to kill anyone and everyone in his path, including a uniformed police officer and innocent civilians. Someone willing to engage in this kind of violence against people he has never met is not the kind of person who deserves a break. The criminal justice system has to do better and send a strong message that violence will not be tolerated.”

Deputy District Attorney Avery Harrison of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.