A man who fled to Mexico after allegedly shooting an off-duty sheriff's deputy and an innocent bystander in downtown San Diego pleaded not guilty in court Friday.
The disappearance of Ray Koloset Pitoau, 37, after the Aug. 7 shooting of an 11-year veteran of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, Jason Philpot, prompted an international manhunt.
Federal authorities worked with Mexican police to finally find and arrest Pitoau in a home south of Tijuana, nearly a month after the shooting. He was taken into custody Wednesday, according to San Diego police.
Pitoau faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon, illegally possessing a firearm, inflicting great bodily injury and more.
Prosecutors asked the judge to increase his bail from $1 million to $3 million, and the request was granted.
"Mr. Pitoau obviously fled down to Mexico, so the flight risk was one of the reasons why we wanted to raise it, as well as just the serious nature of the offense and the total maximum exposure," said Michael Riley, the Deputy District Attorney.
The alleged shooting happened the night of the Metallica concert in downtown San Diego. Prosecutors said a group of five men were heading down the street, when they walked past Pitoau. Their group included the deputy as well as two Escondido police officers.
A verbal argument broke out, and the men starting clashing. When Pitoau pulled out a gun, the off-duty deputy charged at him in an effort to tear the firearm away.
Two bullets pierced through the off-duty deputy's shoulder, and a third bullet struck a nearby pedestrian, said prosecutors. Once the shots were fired, Pitoau removed his shirt, dropped the gun and ran away.
A few days later, the authorities surrounded a home in Spring Valley, believing Pitoau was hiding there. After an hours-long SWAT standoff, he was nowhere to be found. Only a month later, they were able to pinpoint his hideout in Tijuana.
During the shooting, the deputy was dressed in civilian clothes. There are currently no charges related to an assault on a peace officer.
Pitoau possesses a lengthy criminal history including four prior prison stints, said prosecutors. His pretrial motions are set for Sept. 18 and his preliminary hearing is Sept. 21.