A Spring Valley man who drew attention for posting videos that appeared to show him rehearsing a mass shooting was sentenced Thursday to three years, eight months in state prison.
A terrorism task force arrested Steve Homoki, 32, in late 2019. The FBI had received a tip regarding a pair of YouTube videos recorded at The Sofia Hotel in downtown San Diego.
The videos, apparently recorded with a body camera, feature a first-person perspective of a man loading guns. He then aims them out a window at people walking along the streets below his hotel room.
In one video, he takes aim at a person walking outside, pulls the trigger – to no effect – and says, “One down, more to go.”
The videos were filmed in March 2019 and posted online about six months later.
Homoki was arrested shortly after authorities received the anonymous tip that December, though he was not charged in relation to the videos.
He pleaded guilty last month to felony assault, weapon possession and child abuse counts, as well as embezzlement and grand theft charges in an unrelated case. Prosecutors say he took money from his family’s business.
Defense attorney Oscar Valencia asked for a lenient sentence, saying a combination of mental health issues and alcohol abuse were central to his client’s conduct.
Since his incarceration, Valencia said Homoki has been able to obtain therapy and forced to remain sober.
“Mr. Homoki is really not a threat to society as long as he is a) sober and b) getting mental health services,” Valencia said.
Valencia said Homoki has no prior criminal history and was “remorseful and he has taken responsibility.”
Deputy District Attorney Leonard Trinh said Homoki used alcohol as an “excuse” for what occurred.
Trinh said Homoki acted in a “very deliberate and planned manner” in the videos. He did not believe alcohol had any impact on the defendant either recording the videos or posting them online months later.
Trinh said Homoki was “extremely lucky that he didn’t have an accidental discharge when he was filming these shootings – these mock shootings – from The Sofia Hotel.”
In a gun violence restraining order petition filed in late 2019, the person who provided the tip to police reported noticing Homoki “slowly become less stable over the period of almost an entire year.”
The tipster believed Homoki had “gone off the deep end” and was worried that he “is planning something or already has a plan,” according to court documents.
In a 2019 jailhouse interview with CBS 8, Homoki did not offer a clear explanation of what the videos were intended to achieve, but described them as part of an “art project.”
Homoki repeated several times that he did not intend to harm anyone and was merely expressing his First Amendment rights by making the videos. He said they were never meant to be seen by the general public and had been “blown out of proportion.”