DA’s office quiet regarding new arrest in shooting

Edited at 4:50 p.m. to correct Issa Wajeel's position with Barstow Community College.

BARSTOW • San Bernardino County’s District Attorney’s Office offered little comment on its recent voluntary manslaughter charge of a man accused of shooting a Marine, after electing not to file murder charges against him in July.

Deputy District Attorney Shannon Faherty said that her office had worked in conjuction with the Barstow Police Department to collect sufficient evidence in the second arrest of Issa Wajeel, but declined further comment on the case pending his arraignment in January. She said the case had attracted “controversy” because of the high local profile of the suspect, 50-year-old Issa Wajeel, who is a part-time criminal justice instructor at Barstow Community College.

“[Wajeel] is certainly someone who is well-respected in the community,” she said, adding that while there was “not particularly new evidence,” her office saw evidence “in a new light” after working closely to review the case with the Barstow Police Department.

Wajeel was originally arrested as a murder suspect in the July 3 shooting death of Michael Firkins, 20, a Camp Pendleton Marine. Firkins suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head and was found by police in his truck parked in front of Wajeel’s house on Barcelona Court.

Investigators reported finding Wajeel in his front yard with a gun. Wajeel told police that he confronted a man he believed had been trying to break into his home.

On Friday, Wajeel was arrested by officers at his home and charged with voluntary manslaughter; he posted $125,000 bail approximately two hours later.

Sgt. Andrew Espinoza Sr. said that after “thorough discussions,” the district attorney’s office and police concluded that they possessed sufficient evidence to pursue the voluntary manslaughter charge. Espinoza declined further comment on the evidence.

In July, Barstow Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael Fermin chose not to pursue murder charges against Wajeel, saying that Wajeel shot Firkins in self-defense.

“We base [prosecution] on the facts of the law, the facts of what happened and the law that applies in that situation,” Fermin said in July. “... Sometimes that decision-making process may not be a popular one, but it’s one we believe to be right under the eye of the law and the facts that are available.”

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or cnguyen@desertdispatch.com

July 3: Police find Michael Firkins shot in the head in his truck parked in Barcelona Court.
July 6: Firkins dies in the hospital from his injuries.
July 18: Barstow Police officers arrest Issa Wajeel as a murder suspect.
July 22: The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office decides to not file murder charges against Wajeel.
Dec. 5: After discussions between the district attorney’s office and the Barstow Police Department, Wajeel is arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter.

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