Guilty plea from ex-con who opened fire on police, led chase - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Guilty plea from ex-con who opened fire on police, then led officers on chase

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VISTA (CNS) - An ex-con who led police on a chase through Escondido in a stolen car, firing at officers, bystanders and a sheriff's helicopter and pumping bullets into a squad car, pleaded guilty Monday to attempted murder.

Eric Anthony Pomatto, 27, faces 34 years to life in state prison when he is sentenced July 28 at the Vista Courthouse.

About 6 p.m. on March 19, 2010, an officer responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle on South Rose Street ran a computer check on a Honda Accord and discovered it had been stolen from an off-duty detective in Chula Vista two days earlier, said Escondido police Lt. Craig Carter.

Moments later, a man inside the car -- later identified as Pomatto -- opened fire on a police cruiser, then drove off, the lieutenant said.

Inside the car were two guns used by the defendant in the 15-minute crime spree, said Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza.

As officers chased Pomatto along Midway Drive, near Bear Valley Parkway, he shot at them and fired through the stolen car's open sunroof at a law enforcement helicopter aiding in the chase, the prosecutor said.

The assailant then headed south on Bear Valley Parkway, firing a pistol and a shotgun at his pursuers, according to authorities.

At Craigmore Avenue, he shot through the windshield of a police dog handler's cruiser. The bullet barely missed the officer, tearing through his epaulette and lodging in the back seat near his dog, according to Carter. Other bullets hit the front bumper and tires, disabling the patrol car.

The chase continued to the south as eight officers strugged to keep the Honda in sight while trying to stay out of the gunman's firing range, Carter said.

On Boyle Avenue, the fleeing driver shot an officer who was attempting to place tire-flattening spike strips on the roadway. The shot missed the intended victim but hit a passing car.

Carter said the driver continued to fire until he reached Westfield North County mall. There, he stopped outside an On the Border restaurant, got out of the car and lay on the pavement.

The sheriff's helicopter crew landed in a parking lot at the shopping center to assess whether it had been hit by gunfire. Carter said the aircraft was not hit.

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