San Diego

La Mesa Man Accused of Using Stolen Car as Weapon Pleads Not Guilty

Fetalaiga allegedly swerved his car in the direction of seven different patrol cars in the rapid pursuit

A La Mesa man accused of using a stolen Range Rover as a weapon against law enforcement officers pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday.

The incident occurred on Aug. 31 when Jeremiah Fetalaiga, 21, and his partner allegedly robbed a 7-Eleven using BB guns and stole cash out of the store, according to prosecutors.

Later that day, he is accused of stealing a car around 5 p.m. The vehicle was equipped with LoJack, a vehicle tracking system.

The tracking system emitted signals that allowed deputies to quickly locate the vehicle and start pursuing him, starting just before midnight.

A high-speed pursuit continued along State Route 125, westbound Interstate 8 and southbound State Route 163. California Highway Patrol officers also tailed his car at one point. San Diego police eventually took over the pursuit.

Prosecutors said the chase was so dangerous that officers had to retreat on one occasion. Fetalaiga allegedly swerved his car in the direction of seven different patrol cars.

The pursuit lasted for nearly an hour.

In the middle of the chase, Fetalaiga attempted to barrel into an unoccupied patrol car parked on a downtown street.

The pursuit ended in East Village when Fetalaiga threatened to ram his vehicle into a police officer. The uniformed officer was trying to roll out a spike strip, officials said.

Once Fetalaiga started accelerating directly toward the officer, the officer turned to him and opened fire, SDPD officials said.

Fetalaiga was taken into custody near Sixth and Broadway, police said.

He faces multiple criminal charges including assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, felony failure to yield and possession of a stolen vehicle, SDPD officials said.

The judge set his bail at $150,000 and ordered the defendant not to drive unless validly licensed and insured. He also must stay away from the 7-Eleven address of the suspected robbery.

He will be back in court on Sept. 15.

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