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Murder suspect in McDonald’s parking lot shooting tells jurors it was self defense

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 2, 2021

Defendant Christian J. Robinson, center, took the stand Tuesday and told jurors he shot and killed Christian Salazar in self defense at the Hillyard McDonald’s restaurant in 2020.  (JESSE TINSLEY)
Defendant Christian J. Robinson, center, took the stand Tuesday and told jurors he shot and killed Christian Salazar in self defense at the Hillyard McDonald’s restaurant in 2020. (JESSE TINSLEY)

A murder defendant told jurors Tuesday he acted in self defense when he shot and killed a man in a McDonald’s restaurant parking lot in northeast Spokane in February 2020.

Christian J. Robinson said he feared for his and his friend’s life when he fired his gun at Christian Salazar after Robinson’s missing cellphone prompted the men to confront Salazar in his parked car.

Robinson’s testimony came after prosecutors said the fight became violent only because Robinson and his friend Shondell Buttram were acting aggressively. No weapons were ever found in Salazar’s car. Salazar, 21, died of a single gunshot wound before he reached the hospital.

Robinson said his night on Feb. 3, 2020, started by driving two of his friends to Crave Bar. Robinson, who has a 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, said he was “reluctant” to go out that night.

While talking to three women parked nearby in a white Toyota Corolla, Robinson said two of them, witnesses Annastasia Roa and Mariesha Seyler, said they were gang members and used a racist slur. In their testimonies, Roa and Seyler denied gang activity.

Robinson and his two friends then went inside to a “fairly empty” bar. They met up for several minutes with the women from earlier. As Robinson and his friends started to leave, he realized he did not have his phone. While searching his truck for it, Robinson saw his handgun and put it in his pocket, he said.

Buttram used a phone tracking browser to locate Robinson’s phone.

Surveillance video from the McDonald’s on Market Street showed Salazar, Roa and Seyler park the car. Seconds later, a black Ford F-150 parked directly behind them.

Three men emerge from the truck and are hidden from view before Buttram runs over, opens Salazar’s door and pushes him back. Buttram had earlier testified the victim was “frantically” reaching under his seat.

Robinson told jurors that from his vantage point, he thought Salazar had a weapon. Robinson told the jury he swung his gun as a “billy club” four times at Salazar to “protect Shondell,” connecting on three swings.

On the fifth swing, Robinson said to the jury, “I felt a jerk, and I felt it go off.” He told prosecutors he did not know whether his finger was on the trigger.

Robinson said after he knew Salazar was shot he was “in shock” and did not realize the 21-year-old was fatally injured.

Prosecutors asked Robinson why he chose to hit Salazar instead of pointing the gun at him as an intimidation tactic.

“I don’t know if you have the stomach for that, but I do not,” Robinson responded.

Sydney Brown can be reached at sydneyb@spokesman.com.

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