Attempted-murder charges refiled in shooting that started after Chihuahua spat 

This dogfight is far from over.

San Francisco prosecutors have re-filed an attempted-murder charge against the Haight Street merchant who shot a customer in the back during a spat over a chubby, pink-sweater-wearing Chihuahua.

Click on the photo at right to see a picture of Gizmo the Chihuahua.

The re-filing came two weeks after a judge said there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue that severe of a charge against 44-year-old Sam Kazzouh. The Fred’s New Lite Market merchant was instead ordered to stand trial on the lesser charges he faced — assault and firearm allegations.

Prosecutors, however, disagreed with the judge’s decision, saying there is ample evidence to pursue the attempted murder charge. They say Kazzouh kicked unarmed customer Michael Stafford’s pet Chihuahua, named Gizmo, in the store on Feb. 9, sparking an argument, and then fired three shots as Stafford was leaving the shop.

A bullet hit Stafford in the back, paralyzing him, prosecutors said.

But the merchant’s defense attorney Christopher Hite said witness testimony during the Aug. 3 preliminary hearing provided “ample evidence” that his client felt his life was in danger.

Stafford hollered threats and wouldn’t leave the store even after the merchant whipped out a knife and a gun, according to a witness.

After Kazzouh pulled the knife, Stafford refused to leave and told shouted, “I’m going to gut you,” the witness said.

When Kazzouh fetched the gun, hoping that would scare Stafford into leaving, Stafford said, “Go ahead and shoot me,” the witness said.

Another witness testified that he at one point heard Stafford say he was “going to come back and finish [Kazzouh] off” as he was leaving the store.

On Wednesday, Kazzouh, who is out of custody on bail, again pleaded not guilty to the all charges including attempted murder. He is set to return to court on Sept. 12 for a pretrial conference, with the trial tentatively set for Oct. 21.

The twists in the charges associated with the shooting are just some of the drama related to teh case. Two weeks after the shooting, Stafford’s Chihuahua was struck and killed by a car when it ran into traffic on Masonic Avenue, police said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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