Craigslist murder suspects to be charged as adults

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Three 17-year-old boys accused of murdering a young college student after luring him to a late-night robbery in Paradise Hills by posing as sellers on Craigslist were scheduled to be charged Friday as adults.

The suspects were arrested shortly after the fatal shooting, which occurred about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to San Diego police. Their names were withheld pending their court initial appearances because they are minors.

Patrol officers responding to a report of gunfire found the victim slumped over the wheel of his car in the 3000 block of Artemia Way, SDPD homicide Lt. Kevin Rooney said. Medics took the mortally wounded man to Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest, where he was pronounced dead about a half-hour later.

Family and friends identified him as 18-year-old Garrett Berki, a 2010 La Jolla High School graduate who lived with his mother in Mission Beach.

Berki, a Mesa College student, had gone with his girlfriend to the eastern San Diego neighborhood where he was slain to buy an item he'd seen for sale online. Police declined to identify what he intended to purchase, but friends said it may have been an auto part he needed to repair a car he had borrowed.

Arriving at a pre-arranged meeting place, the couple was met by three youths who briefly pretended to be the Craigslist sellers before pulling a gun and demanding their cash and cell phones, Rooney said. Following the holdup, the trio fled in a green Honda Accord, and Berki tailed them in his vehicle for about a mile to try to get a license plate number.

Reaching a cul-de-sac near Parkside Park, the Accord circled around and headed back toward Berki's car.

“As the vehicles were next to each other, one of the (robbers) fired a shot, striking the victim,” Rooney said.

Berki's girlfriend was uninjured.

The thieves continued fleeing to the west for a short distance before the driver lost control of the Honda in the 3000 block of Fleming Way, sending it skidding to a halt. The three occupants then jumped out and ran off.

Officers searched the area by ground and aboard an SDPD helicopter before capturing the three suspects about a block from the site of the crash.

The teens were booked into juvenile hall on suspicion of murder and robbery, Rooney said.

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