FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A man charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault for the 2015 shootings that left one Northern Arizona University student dead and three others wounded testified Thursday that he fired his gun because he feared for his life.
Steven Jones, 20, is accused of killing Colin Brough near the university’s Flagstaff campus in October 2015 and wounding three others.
Jones has pleaded not guilty and claims he fired in self-defense.
According to Jones, he and two friends were walking from an early morning party when they stopped in front of an apartment complex and were accosted by a drunken group of strangers.
Jones said he was punched in the face and lost his eyeglasses. He testified that he was chased by some members of the group and he ran to his car.
“My legs were shaking and I panicked,” Jones told the court. “I couldn’t just abandon my friends. I knew they were in trouble. I thought I had to do something so I got my gun out of my glove box.”
Jones said he went back toward the group and fired his gun but didn’t mean to hurt anyone.
He said he fired several shots “to stop the immediate threat that was coming at me. I knew that if I waited, I would surely get hurt or die because they were right on top of me.”
Prosecutors insist that Jones’ actions were premeditated.
“The defendant’s pride was hurt in the early morning hours of October 9 because he was punched one time in the face, and instead of walking away or punching back he went to his car to get his fully loaded handgun and walked 90 feet to shoot four college students, killing (20-year-old) Colin Brough,” Deputy County Attorney Ammon Barker said.
Two of the shooting victims who survived were among witnesses called Wednesday in the trial, now in its third week.
Kyle Zientek said he tried to run away moments before he was shot twice in the back. He said his injuries caused him to lose a kidney and part of his intestine during an 11-day hospital stay.
“I remember a light shining on Colin and then he just fell like a statue and then a bit later the light was steady on me,” Zientek said, referring to the tactical LED flashlight attached to Jones’ handgun.
“I knew it was a gun because I had been around guns before. I turned to run and I felt something and dropped to the ground,” Zientek added. “It was the most painful thing, but I couldn’t feel a thing.”
Nick Prato said he went to comfort the mortally wounded Brough when he looked up and made eye contact with Jones.
He said he took a couple steps forward before being shot through the neck by Jones.