Written by AARON CASTREJON
LOS ANGELES - The suspect who allegedly rammed into the doors of a Montebello JC Penny and assaulted officers during a subsequent chase entered his plea March 12.
Tom Rojas, 37, pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of assault upon a peace officer, one felony count each of fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s vehicle while driving recklessly, vandalism causing more than $400 in damage and hit-and-run driving causing property damage, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney Public Information Officer Paul Eakins.
Police began pursuing him after responding to a burglary call at The Shops Montebello, 1600 Town Center Dr., around 3 a.m. March 9. A vehicle was seen crashing into one of the store fronts, Montebello Police said.
Rojas allegedly fled the scene, but was found later at Paramount and Whittier boulevards in Pico Rivera.
Rojas allegedly drove recklessly along surface streets and tried to strike other vehicles and police vehicles on the road, Montebello Police said.
The pursuit ended with police gunfire near Dittman Avenue and Indiana Street after a K9 took Rojas down.
No officers were injured.
Rojas faces a possible maximum sentence of eight years and two months in state prison if convicted as charged, Eakins said.
Written by AARON CASTREJON | CityWatch Editor
MONTEBELLO - Two men are facing capital murder charges in a drive-by shooting that left a man dead, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.
Bernardo Martinez, 21, and Nicholas Rodriguez, 27, were charged September 25 with one count of murder with the special circumstance that it occurred in a drive-by shooting with the intent to kill. The men are eligible for the death penalty, according to Paul Eakins of the DA’s Office.
The men were additionally charged with two counts of premeditated attempted murder and one count of shooting from a motor vehicle. Rodriguez also faces a count of fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s vehicle while driving recklessly, Eakins said.
The charges include gun and gang enhancements for both men.
The suspects are accused of firing on a group of people in the 600 block of North Garfield Avenue around 1:40 a.m. September 22.
Montebello officers found Rudy Elguezabal, 21, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He later died at a nearby hospital. Two other intended victims were unscathed, Montebello Police said.
Witnesses described the vehicle used in the drive-by. It was located occupied by Montebello Police who then pursed the suspects when they refused to stop.
The suspects crashed and fled officers on foot before being taken into custody. The alleged murder weapon was recovered.
The suspects face the death penalty or life in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charged.
A decision on whether to seek capital punishment will be made at a later date, Eakins said.