11/29/2005

Man accused of shooting CHP officer is captured

Lance Pugmire, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved

A Mira Loma man who allegedly shot and wounded a California Highway Patrol officer in Ontario last week has been captured in Kansas, police said Monday.

Jaime Zavala Garcia, 37, was arrested in Liberal, Kan., on Sunday afternoon with his brother, Antonio Garcia Zavala of Hesperia, who was booked on suspicion of aiding and harboring a fugitive.

Authorities allege that Garcia shot five-year veteran Officer Marlin Eugene Pressley Jr., 27, during a traffic stop on southbound Interstate 15 on Friday afternoon. Garcia fled, and left the Pontiac Firebird he was driving at a Riverside County motel, authorities said.

Police say Garcia met his brother in Hesperia and the pair drove to a friend's home in southwestern Kansas, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service.

Detectives tracked them to Kansas using information found at the home in Hesperia. The brothers had traveled there before for hunting trips, police said. Guns were seized at the Kansas home, although authorities are unsure whether the gun used in the alleged freeway shooting was among them, police said.

When the brothers and their friend were stopped by Kansas police, Antonio Garcia Zavala told authorities, "You're not looking for me; you're looking for my brother," said U.S. Marshal's Special Agent Anthony Burke.

Pressley was released from Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton on Saturday after being treated for three gunshot wounds. He appeared at a news conference Monday to thank officers who helped treat him on the freeway.

Ontario police said they were still investigating the reason for the shooting.

Pressley stopped Garcia just north of the Jurupa Avenue offramp of southbound Interstate 15 after he witnessed him driving more than 100 mph, police said.

CHP Assistant Chief Mike Maples said Garcia was an illegal Mexican immigrant whose Pontiac was to be impounded because he was an unlicensed driver. Maples said investigators had yet to establish whether Garcia had been told that the car would be impounded before he allegedly opened fire, "but Officer Pressley was filling out the paperwork" when the shooting occurred.

"We know he had a gun in there, but guessing why he shot our officer is only speculation until investigators interview" Garcia, Maples said.

Garcia could face charges of premeditated attempted murder of a police officer, and discharging a firearm against a police officer -- counts that could lead to a sentence of 40 years to life in prison if he is convicted. 
 
November 29, 2005

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