By Lisa Fernandez | KTVU
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Former UFC champ Cain Velasquez was shooting at a man who allegedly molested a 4-year-old relative of the mixed martial arts fighter when he was arrested for attempted murder, according to newly released court documents.
One person was injured in the shooting Monday in the South Bay, but it was not the person who’d allegedly abused Velasquez’s young relative.
Velasquez, 39, of Gilroy, was formally arraigned on Wednesday with 10 counts of attempted murder and multiple gun assault charges in connection with the alleged act of vengeance. He did not enter a plea and his court date was continued to March 7. He is being held in custody without bail.
He’s being accused of firing his .40-caliber handgun at Harry Goularte – who’s charged with molesting a child – and ramming the truck that Goularte was in. Goularte’s mother and stepfather were in the truck too.
“What he did was put the public in danger,” Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Aaron French. “Driving a vehicle and firing a firearm on the highway is extremely dangerous to other people and human life.”
Prosecutors said Velasquez fired his weapon seven times.
Goularte’s stepfather was shot twice and is expected to survive.
Velasquez is a two-time UFC champion, who has his roots in the South Bay, and trains at a South San Jose MMA gym.
He has declined a jailhouse interview with KTVU and efforts to speak to his attorney were not immediately successful. His wife, Michelle Velasquez, appeared at her husband’s arraignment but didn’t speak publicly.
Supporters rallied behind Velasquez, sparking a #FreeCain hashtag that shows up in social media and on T-shirts. Outside Santa Clara County Superior Court, there was a crush of people supporting Velasquez. Some were giving out #FreeCain shirts.
“This event should have never happened, had they kept the pedophile behind bars,” said Erin McNabb, a Velasquez family friend.
A San Jose police report and statements from prosecutors shed light on the motivation behind Velasquez’s alleged vigilante actions.
Prosecutors said on February 28, Velasquez drove his Ford truck from his Gilroy home north to Morgan Hill, and to the home of Goularte.
Velasquez initiated a high-speed chase from Morgan Hill into South San Jose, pursuing Goularte who was in a Silverado, according to prosecutors. He rammed his truck into the victim’s Chevy truck twice, then started shooting at Butterfield Boulevard and Cochrane Road, authorities allege.
Velasquez allegedly fired seven shots, striking the driver, Paul Bender, 63. Bender – who is Goularte’s stepfather – was taken to Regional Medical Center.
But Velasquez wasn’t after Bender.
Prosecutors and police say he was after Goularte, who was arraigned on one felony count of a lewd and lascivious act on a child on Feb. 25 – three days before the shooting. A judge granted him supervised release, the police reports show. The DA opposed the release.
The police reports indicate that Goularte had molested one of Velasquez’s 4-year-old relatives who attended a daycare run by Goularte’s mother, Patty Goularte, in San Martin. A sheriff’s report said Goularte touched the child inappropriately multiple times. Harry Goularte lives at the daycare.
The daycare has been temporarily shut down, a Santa Clara County Sheriff’s report indicates.
The exact nature of Velasquez’s connection to the child has not been spelled out in public documents.
Patty Goularte was also in the Silverado on the day of the shooting, though she was not struck.
Prosecutors also say that during the 11-mile chase in the South Bay, Velasquez rammed his truck into the Silverado.
Patty Goularte called 911 for help.
Police said the gun was loaded with nine bullets in a 10-round magazine. Two spent casings were found on the front passenger seat. More casings were found at the scene. The gun was registered to Velasquez, police reports indicate.
Velasquez was ultimately stopped and arrested by Morgan Hill police near Madrone Avenue in San Jose.
Harry Goularte was released under the conditions that he stay in home detention in Morgan Hill, stay 100 yards away from any child under 14, and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
Goularte was on his way to get the monitor when Velasquez started shooting, prosecutors said.
“The sad tragedy is that Mr. Velasquez chose to take the law into his own hands, endangering the public and everyone in the truck,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “This act of violence also causes more pain and suffering to his family.”
Prosecutors added that his actions were reckless and him shooting a truck during the middle of the day put the public in danger.
There were plenty of others, though, who rushed to his defense.
Former UFC welterweight Ben Askren posted: “I don’t want to live in a country where you can’t shoot someone who sexually abused your child. #FreeCain”
Velasquez retired in 2019 and is a former two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship title belt holder in the heavyweight division.
That same year, Velasquez embarked on a professional wrestling career, working for the Mexican Lucha Libre promotion AAA before moving to the WWE promotion.
In April 2020, he was released from his contract because of budget cuts related to the pandemic.