Suspect connected to lockdown at Naval Medical Center pleads not guilty to charges of burglary

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A burglary suspect who caused a lockdown at Naval Medical Center San Diego after a foot chase with police pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of burglary, receiving stolen property and using a stolen credit card.

Russell Joseph Merck, 22, was ordered held on $300,000 bail.

Deputy District Attorney Jalyn Wang told Judge Jay Bloom that Merck's alleged crime spree started about three weeks ago when he broke into a home while the residents were sleeping. On this occasion, he stole a personally engraved naval sword, which was in his possession when he tried to pawn it two days later.

A week later, Merck broke into another home and told a purse full of credit cards while the residents were sleeping. 

When an officer spotted Merck in a parking lot near Balboa Park last Friday, the nearby Naval Medical Center was placed on lockdown.

Merck was arrested the next day at the Chula Vista Public Library.

The defendant — who is on probation for robbery — faces more than 28 years in prison if convicted, according to Wang.

A readiness conference is scheduled July 24 and a preliminary hearing for July 28.

Categories: KUSI