Suspected gang member pleads not guilty to attempted murder

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A suspected gang member accused of involvement in a North Park marijuana-dispensary robbery in which one of the perpetrators died in a shootout with a security guard pleaded not guilty Monday to attempted murder and other charges.

Jonathan Collins, 21, was arrested last week in Houston, Texas. He was the subject of a warrant from San Diego in connection with the holdup and fatal shooting at a medicinal-cannabis shop in the 3800 block of Ray Street on April 25.

Shortly before 12:30 that afternoon, one of two teenagers trying to rob the business exchanged gunfire with a security officer. The other youth, 18-year-old Marlon Thomas of San Diego, died at the scene. The guard suffered a non-fatal bullet wound to the abdomen.

In May, the suspected fugitive gunman, Kurese Bell, then 17, was arrested at a Los Angeles-area motel. He was charged as an adult with murder, attempted murder and robbery and faces life in prison if convicted.

Homicide Lt. Paul Rorrison declined to disclose Collins’ suspected involvement in the crime.

A third person, Atiim Smith, 22, is also charged in the case.

A status conference is scheduled Oct. 6.

Four days before the fatal shootout, Bell and Thomas allegedly held up an employee at a smoke shop on El Cajon Boulevard. The robbery was interrupted when a second worker yelled out, sending the suspects fleeing. Before leaving, Bell allegedly trained his gun on one of the victims and fired off a round, but missed.

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