Murder charge for man accused in deadly 'smash and grab' - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Murder charge for man accused in deadly Apple Store 'smash and grab' burglary attempt

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CHULA VISTA (CNS) - Murder and other charges were filed Wednesday against a man accused in an attempted "smash and grab" burglary at a Chula Vista Apple store, in which one of his two alleged accomplices was killed in a shootout with a security guard.

Johnny Chenda, 25, faces more than 35 years to life in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Carlos Varela.

At a hearing Wednesday, South Bay Judge Kathleen Lewis doubled Chenda's bail from $500,000 to $1 million.

In addition to murder, Chenda is charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit a burglary and robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, attempted robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm, along with gun and gang allegations.

Alex Somphonh Choulamontry, a 23-year-old parolee and documented gang member, was shot in the head by a security guard as he, Chenda and 21-year-old Melissa Ortiz allegedly tried to flee the store at the Otay Ranch Town Center about 6:40 a.m. Monday, according to Chula Vista police.

No charges have been filed against Ortiz, according to Varela.

Jose Jimenez, a retired deputy sheriff who works for a security firm based in Los Angeles County, interrupted the burglars and exchanged gunfire with Choulamontry and Chenda, according to police Capt. Gary Ficacci.

Choulamontry died at the scene, but Chenda and Ortiz allegedly ran from the getaway car after it crashed into a light pole. They were arrested on the patio of a nearby home.

Police said at least one of the suspects pulled a gun on Jimenez shortly after smashing a store window and entering the business.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24.

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