General Crime

Four Suspects Plead No Contest To Lesser Charges In California Highway Patrol Case

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Prosecutors announced today that four reputed gang members have pleaded no contest to reduced charges in connection with a carjacking incident last July in which shots were fired at a California Highway Patrol cruiser. All four suspects were initially charged with the attempted murder of a peace officer and other crimes for an incident last July 21 that began in Hayward and ended in Oakland, but none of them pleaded to attempted murder. Instead, at a hearing in Alameda County Superior Court in Hayward last Friday, one suspect pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon, two pleaded to carjacking and one to robbery. Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Elgin Lowe said at a news conference at police headquarters today that 19-year-old Joseph Gonzalez, who pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon, will receive a term of 27 years in state prison.

Samiuela Sina, 19, will get eight years for carjacking; David Anthony Gonzalez, 24, Joseph’s older brother, will get three years for carjacking; and 17-year-old Kenyon Thomas, who was charged as an adult, will get five years’ probation for robbery. The Gonzalez brothers and Sina are scheduled to be sentenced on June 28, and Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 30. Lowe said the incident began the evening of July 21 when all four suspects drove to Hayward in a van and carjacked a black Acura. He said Sina and David Gonzalez drove back to Oakland in the van and Joseph Gonzalez and Thomas drove to Oakland in the carjacked Acura. At about 8:30 p.m. that night, a CHP officer who was working in Oakland attempted to pull over the van near the 800 block of 50th Avenue in East Oakland for failing to yield, said Oakland interim Police Chief Sean Whent, who joined Lowe and other law enforcement officials at today’s news conference. But the Acura, which contained Thomas and Joseph Gonzalez, rammed the CHP officer’s patrol car, Whent said.

Lowe said Joseph Gonzalez fired several shots at the officer’s car but the officer wasn’t injured. Officers found the van a short time later in a parking lot near 66th Avenue and Highway 880, and David Gonzalez and Sina were arrested. The Acura was found at a Shell gas station near East 10th Street. Joseph Gonzalez was arrested in the 2400 block of East 24th Street on July 23 after a lengthy standoff with Oakland police, who were assisted by a Fremont police SWAT team, a Union City police SWAT team, the CHP, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the Oakland Housing Authority. Thomas, who was described by police as armed and dangerous, was arrested by Oakland police, the CHP and the U.S. Marshals Task Force team in East Palo Alto on Sept. 6. Lowe, who prosecutes gang cases, said authorities believe all four
suspects are affiliated with the Norteno gang.

CHP Assistant Chief Paul Fontana said the officer who was shot at and had his patrol car rammed continues to work in Oakland. Fontana said the shooting illustrates “the danger we face every day.” Fontana said a police officer is killed in the line of duty an average of once every 57 hours across the nation, and that a total of 223 CHP officers and 51 Oakland officers have been killed in their respective histories.

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