Woman charged in South Bay Apple Store robbery in which alleged - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Woman charged in South Bay Apple Store robbery in which alleged accomplice killed

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A woman already charged with murder in the shooting death of a San Diego police officer in Skyline last year was charged Wednesday with being a lookout in a "smash and grab" burglary at a Chula Vista Apple store in which an alleged accomplice was shot and killed by a security guard.

Melissa Ortiz, 22, was ordered held on $2 million bail. She faces life in prison plus 29 years if convicted of all charges.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon told Judge David Szumowski that surveillance cameras caught a silver Acura parking in front of the Apple store about 6:45 a.m. last April 4.

The prosecutor alleged that two men, Johnny Chenda and Alex Choulamontry, forced entry into the store and Choulamontry pointed a gun at a security guard as Chenda stole computers and other items.

The security guard pulled his weapon and a gun battle ensued, with Chenda and Choulamontry fleeing, Runyon said.

As he got into the driver's seat of the Acura, Choulamontry was fatally wounded. Chenda tried to steer the car from the passenger seat but crashed it into a large potted plant in a turnabout area of the mall, the prosecutor said.

Chenda and Ortiz ran off but were arrested later in the side yard of a home across from the mall, Runyon said.

Chula Vista police officers who arrived after the gun battle found a cell phone that was actively monitoring police activity in the area as Chenda and Choulamontry tried to rob the Apple store, the prosecutor said.

"So the people's theory of liability in this case as it relates to Ms. Ortiz is that she was acting as a lookout in the vehicle monitoring Chula Vista Police Department (radio) traffic as Mr. Chenda and Mr. Choulamontry made entry into the store," Runyon said outside court.

Ortiz is charged with robbery, commercial burglary, attempted murder and assault with a semiautomatic weapon, along with gang and gun allegations. Chenda is charged with attempted murder, assault with a firearm and robbery. He faces 39 years in prison if convicted.

Ortiz was charged in July with murder and other charges in the Oct. 27, 2010, death of SDPD Officer Christopher Wilson. Alex Charfauros and Patrick Luangrath are also charged in Wilson's death.

None of the defendants is charged with firing the shot that killed the officer, who was killed in a shootout as probation officers and federal marshals attempted to conduct a probation compliance search at Charfauros' apartment on South Meadowbrook Drive.

 

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