Accused in high-speed pursuit towards border pleads not guilty

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – An auto theft suspect shot by officers after leading authorities on a high-speed pursuit through San Diego County to the Mexican border pleaded not guilty today to multiple charges of felony assault on a peace officer, among other counts.

Carlos K. Romero, 30, was ordered held on $250,000 bail. He was booked into jail after being hospitalized for a gunshot wound to the leg and appeared in court in a wheelchair.

“I think it was the drugs that he was on that made him not think about what he was doing and just taking off. He didn't realize that he was putting people in danger,” Romero's younger sister, Cynthia Cortez, said outside court.

Cortez said her brother is a hard-working man who has worked in construction for the past six or seven years. She said Romero lived in Perris, in Riverside County, and has a wife and two daughters who live in San Diego.

San Diego police said Romero was driving a stolen 2007 Chevrolet Silverado truck on Jan. 2 when officers began to pursue him about 6:30 p.m. on Interstate 15 near Mira Mesa.

Romero continued south at about 90 mph and merged onto state Route 94 then Interstate 5, eventually ending up in traffic just north of the border in San Ysidro.

As officers approached him on foot, Romero allegedly accelerated and crashed the stolen pickup into two law enforcement vehicles, prompting a Border Patrol agent to open fire, according to Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon.

Though suffering from a bullet wound to the leg, Romero pulled a U-turn and drove off to the north in the southbound lanes of the freeway before exiting onto Camino de la Plaza.

A short time later, Romero crashed to a halt at Dairy Mart Road and surrendered without further incident.

Romero faces three counts of assault on a peace officer and one count each of felony evading, auto theft and assault with a deadly weapon.

Romero — who has a 2010 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon — faces 10 years in state prison if convicted, Runyon said.

A readiness conference was set for Jan. 16 and a preliminary hearing for Jan. 21.

Categories: KUSI