San Diego

Airport Shuttle Carjacking Suspect Pleads Not Guilty to Slew of Charges

A man accused of posing as a passenger and stealing an employee shuttle filled with workers at the San Diego International Airport pleaded not guilty to multiple charges Monday. 

Norberto Eaton, 46, of Arizona, is facing 18 counts, including eight counts of kidnapping and eight counts of false imprisonment with violence. He’s also facing a vehicle theft charge and a count of reckless driving.

At his arraignment, he pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations, waiving a $500,000 bail review through his attorney. His attorney asked for a medical referral. 

Prosecutors say Eaton has a theft-related case out of Las Vegas in his history. 

Eaton is accused in the bizarre theft of a shuttle that happened in front of Terminal 2 West at the San Diego International Airport on April 19.

The shuttle – typically used to transport airport employees – was carrying nine passengers at 3:45 p.m. when Eaton hopped on the shuttle and took a seat, allegedly posing as a passenger, San Diego Harbor Police said.

The driver pulled over to the curbside pick-up area and stepped off the bus to give a piece of equipment to another shuttle driver who had pulled up behind him, police said.

That's when investigators say Eaton moved to the driver’s seat and drove toward the highway. 

Harbor Police said Eaton left the airport and drove eastbound on busy N. Harbor Drive, speeding and ignoring traffic signals.

Walter Zacofsky III and another male passenger seized the opportunity to grab the suspect when he was forced to stop for traffic at N. Harbor Drive and Hawthorn Street, prompting many to call them heroes. 

Eaton went running straight into the arms of a parking enforcement officer, police said. 

Zacofsky stood by with the parking enforcement officer until Harbor Police officers arrived. 

Harbor Police Sgt. Jonathan George said the incident was captured on surveillance tape inside the shuttle but that video is not being publicly released at this time.

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