NBC San Diego
Johnny Chenda, 25, walking out of court on April 6, 2011. The judge ordered the media to tilize Chenda's face.
One of three people accused of breaking into a South Bay Apple store pleaded not guilty in court on Wednesday. Another suspect in the case has not been charged. The third suspect was shot and killed by a store guard.
Johnny Chenda, 25, and Melissa Ortiz, 21, were arrested in connection with an attempted burglary at an Apple Store at the Otay Ranch Towne Center just before 7 a.m. on Monday.
Alex Somphonh Choulamontry, 23, was shot and killed by Jose Jimenez, 58, an armed security guard, hired by Apple to protect its store.
Chenda was charged with six counts on Wednesday, including attempted murder, conspiracy to commit a crime, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, attempted robbery and felony possession of a firearm.
“Six counts that have numerous allegations with them… some involving gang allegations and also gun use allegations,” said Deputy District Attorney Carlos Varela.
Ortiz was not charged with a crime, but prosecutors would not give any details.
“At this time, Ms. Ortiz has not had a case issued against her and that’s as much as I can explain about that,” said Varela. “The case is still under investigation. We’ll leave it at that.”
Bail was set at $500,000 for Chenda and a readiness conference was scheduled for May 11.
Chenda could be facing more than 50 years in prison if convicted.
Jimenez confronted Chenda and Choulamontry on Monday morning, according to police. He told police the shooting began when one of the suspects pointed a gun at him.
Investigators said the three suspects got into a silver Acura and crashed into a light pole and a post before stopping on a curb.
Choulamontry was shot and killed inside the car, police said. Chenda and Ortiz were found on a patio in a community of town homes just east of the shopping center.
Apple store employees positively identified the suspects, according to Chula Vista police.
Jimenez, a retired law enforcement officer who works for Security Industry Specialists based in Culver City, was not injured.
Choulamontry was a documented gang member and on active California State parole, said Chula Vista Police Dept. spokesperson Bernard Gonzales.
“Choulamontry had convictions for theft, possession of controlled substances, driving under the influence and false identification to a peace officer,” said Gonzales.
Investigators are looking into whether the trio may have been involved in prior smash and grabs.