A preliminary hearing is expected to get underway today for an ex-con who allegedly opened fire on a San Diego police officer last fall while trying to evade arrest by fleeing through a drainage tunnel in City Heights.
Ignacio Canela, 31, is charged with premeditated attempted murder and other charges. He faces 40 years to life in prison if convicted.
At the defendant's arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said San Diego police officers spotted Canela—who was wanted on felony warrants—coming out of a residence on Wightman Street last Oct. 24 and saw him get into a silver Dodge SUV with a female companion.
Canela allegedly led officers on a nine-minute high-speed chase down city streets, driving close to a children's park and nearly hitting a pedestrian, Runyon said.
The officers tailed the vehicle onto nearby state Route 15, waited until a police helicopter arrived over the area and tried to pull over Canela as he exited the freeway onto Adams Avenue.
Canela eventually reached a dead end in the 3000 block of Central Avenue. There, he and the woman jumped out of the SUV, which continued rolling and went down a brushy slope, Runyon said.
Officers chased Canela through a culvert and into the drainage tunnel, he said.
San Diego police Officer Tim Bell, a five-year department veteran, got into a physical altercation with Canela and tried to subdue the suspect with a stun gun, Runyon said.
Bell told investigators that Canela pulled out a semiautomatic firearm and fired repeatedly at him, hitting him four times -- once in the lower chest above the waist, once in the left arm and twice in the leg-buttocks area, according to Runyon.
The officer was unable to return fire, and fellow officers eventually carried Bell through the canyon for transport to a hospital. Bell's bulletproof vest likely prevented him from suffering considerably more serious -- even fatal -- injuries, authorities said.
Bell underwent surgery, and was later released from the hospital.
At the end of the preliminary hearing, a judge will decide if enough evidence was presented for Canela to stand trial.
—City News Service