San Jose, CA – Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez was arrested for attempted murder on Monday after he shot a man while chasing someone charged with molesting a relative.
Morgan Hill police responded to a report of a shooting just after 3 p.m. on Feb. 28 and found Paul Bender suffering from gunshot wounds, CBS News reported.
Police said that 43-year-old Harry Goularte had just been released by the authorities after having been charged with child molestation and Bender, his stepfather, was taking him to get the GPS monitoring bracelet that was a condition of his release.
Goularte was charged with one felony count of a lewd and lascivious act with a child under the age of 14, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The child was reportedly molested while at a daycare run by Goularte’s wife.
Authorities said that the 39-year-old Velasquez was waiting in his black SUV for Goularte to be released, and then he followed the man accused of molesting his “close family member” as he left the jail in his stepfather’s pickup truck, CBS News reported.
Police said Velasquez chased the Chevy Silverado for 11 miles and then intentionally rammed into it near Monterey Highway and Bailey Avenue.
This is Harry Goularte, accused of lewd and lascivious act on a child, and the alleged target of @cainmma pic.twitter.com/5rPYO2FsGC
— Damian Trujillo (@newsdamian) March 2, 2022
Parts of the chase were captured on cell phone video.
After the crash, the UFC champion opened fire on the pickup truck with a handgun, CBS News reported.
Bender was shot.
Goularte’s mother, who was also in Bender’s vehicle, called 911, CBS News reported.
Bender was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to CNN.
Velasquez was arrested and booked into the Santa Clara County jail, charged with attempted murder, and held without bond.
His arraignment is scheduled for Monday, according to CBS News.
Supporters of Velasquez have rallied in support of the UFC champion and the hashtag “#FreeCain” quickly spread on social media.
Cain Velasquez went on a 11 mile high speed chase and ran that pedohphilia off the road before shooting him
Condemn him all you want but this is a man that protects his family
— Jake Shields (@jakeshieldsajj) March 3, 2022
“I think it is unacceptable that our justice system let [Goularte] free. It’s unacceptable,” Erin McNabb, a family friend of Velasquez, told CBS News.
“The community is behind him on what happened,” McNabb said.
Santa Clara County Assistant District Attorney Angela Bernhard said that Goularte was released despite the prosecutor’s office’s request he be held, but she said that didn’t justify Cain hunting him down and shooting at him, CBS News reported.
“The court disagreed with us and agreed that he could be released without bail,” Bernard said. “That was not a decision that we agreed with. But it is a decision that we respect. We respect the judge’s decision in that case.”
“We do not believe that that justified the conduct in this case, particularly given how reckless it was and how much it endangered the general public,” she added.
Velasquez was a two-time UFC heavyweight champion in 2010 and 2012 and retired in 2019.