SAN JOSE — Authorities have announced the arrest of a man who fired a machine pistol in a crowded Oakridge Mall amid the holiday shopping rush in December, also revealing allegations that he was shooting at two men who had just snatched jewelry off him in plain sight.
Naylen Hobson-Plattner, 18, of San Jose, is currently being held without bail at the Santa Clara County Main Jail and has been charged in the Dec. 20 evening shooting, including with two counts of attempted murder.
According to police and mall surveillance footage, Hobson-Plattner was walking in the mall with his girlfriend when two men approached them near the Forever 21 and Target stores, and within moments grabbed a piece of jewelry off Hobson-Plattner, in full public view.
His girlfriend appeared to push him toward the exit afterward, but he resisted her, reached into a bag, and pulled out a handgun — later determined to have been modified for fully automatic fire. Police say he fired more than a dozen rounds at the two men, who by then had run off toward the Target, causing a mass scramble of frantic shoppers running away from the scene.
Mallgoers and employees were instructed to shelter in place while San Jose police searched the mall for more than three hours, and while they found the shooting aftermath, the shooter and men he fired at were long gone.
Surveillance footage and images were shared with area law-enforcement agencies, and an investigator in San Mateo County recognized Hobson-Plattner from a past case in that region and alerted San Jose police.
SJPD served an arrest warrant for Hobson-Plattner at a San Jose home on Jan. 12 and took him into custody. Police reported that ensuing search warrants recovered a firearm and DNA evidence that the county crime lab analyzed to link him to the crime scene.
On Jan. 25, one of the men suspected of robbing Hobson-Plattner was arrested and identified as a 19-year-old San Jose resident. The second suspect, identified as a 18-year-old San Jose resident, was arrested March 9. Both men were charged with robbery and are currently out of jail custody.
Police say there is no known connection between Hobson-Plattner and the two men, and it remains unclear why they targeted him. The alleged robbers were identified by SJPD gang detectives, but police have not said whether gang motives fueled the initial robbery.
Hobson-Plattner has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm — two for the alleged robbers and two for unnamed bystanders — four counts covering illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition despite being prohibited for a prior juvenile criminal conviction, and possession of an assault weapon.
“A few days before Christmas, the mall is crowded, and dozens of shots fired, it’s a miracle that no one was killed. The police work was tremendous, to take a very dangerous person off the street,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said Thursday. “It also just shows the continuous scourge of gun violence in our country. It’s really an epidemic, and we’re doing everything we can to address it.”
It was not fully clear why the arrests and charges were being announced more than a month after the most recent arrest, but sources familiar with the investigation said the case is part of a larger ongoing probe. The district attorney’s office stated Thursday that “more arrests are expected.”
Anyone with information about the Oakridge shooting or any related cases can contact SJPD Detective Christian Balala at 408-277-3835 or leave a tip with Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408-947-7867 or at svcrimestoppers.org.