SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A robbery suspect wounded in an exchange of gunfire with a patrolman near a South Bay drugstore pleaded not guilty from his hospital bed Wednesday to attempted murder of a police officer and other charges.
John Edward Pantoja, 22, was ordered held without bail and faces 46 years to life in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Melissa Vasel.
Pantoja allegedly opened fire on the officer, missing him, shortly after carrying out an armed holdup at the CVS Pharmacy on Third Avenue in northern Chula Vista early Monday morning.
The lawman arrived at the business in response to the robbery just after 1:30 a.m. and spotted Pantoja, who matched the bandit's description, near the business, Chula Vista police Capt. Gary Wedge said.
Moments later, before the officer was able to get out of his cruiser, Pantoja fired several shots in his direction, then walked off toward a nearby park, according to Wedge.
A moment later, however, Pantoja turned around and headed back, the captain said.
"While doing so, the suspect pointed his gun at the officer," Wedge said. "Believing the suspect was going to shoot at him again, the officer, who was now out of his vehicle, fired three rounds from his patrol rifle, striking the suspect once in the leg."
The patrolman, a 13-year member of the Chula Vista Police Department, was uninjured.
Officers gathering evidence at the scene of the gunfire recovered a small-caliber pistol believed to have been wielded by the robber, money that apparently had been stolen from the business and car keys taken from a pharmacy customer under threat of violence during the holdup.
Besides attempted murder, Pantoja is charged with assault with a firearm on a police officer and two counts of robbery with a gun.
Judge Alvin Green Jr. scheduled a readiness conference for Dec. 3 and a preliminary hearing for Jan. 14.
Temperatures are expected to be about average over the next week throughout San Diego County with the warmest temperatures in that period expected Friday and Saturday.
Coming together to celebrate diversity was the message of a block party Friday night in North Park – which took on new meaning after the violence in Virginia.
Laguna Beach in Orange County is gearing up for a large anti-immigration rally this weekend and police are preparing for any trouble that may come out of the “America First” protest set for Sunday.
The brother of a Sinaloa cartel leader has been arrested at an Arizona border crossing, less than a month after his nephew surrendered to U.S. authorities.
A former high school football hero, who joined the marines and died serving our country, was laid to rest at Miramar National Cemetery.
For the first time, Medicare officials have posted online quality scores for some 3,800 hospice providers - including about two dozen in San Diego County.
Escondido police officials said Friday they won't recommend criminal charges against a male physical education teacher at San Pasqual High School being investigated after claims of an inappropriate incident with a female student.
The former assistant chief of staff of the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet admitted in federal court in San Diego Friday that he accepted bribes in the form of parties and prostitutes while sneaking proprietary information to foreign defense contractor Glenn "Fat Leonard" Francis and his Singapore-based firm, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.