Suspect who caused Naval Medical Center lockdown held on $300K bail
SAN DIEGO — A “hot-prowl” burglary suspect who caused a lockdown at Naval Medical Center San Diego after a foot chase with police near Balboa Park pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of burglary, receiving stolen property and using a stolen credit card.
Russell Joseph Merck, 22, was ordered held on $300,000 bail.
Deputy District Attorney Jalyn Wang told Judge Jay Bloom that Merck’s alleged crime spree started about three weeks ago when he broke into a home while the residents were sleeping and stole a personally engraved naval sword, which was in his possession when he tried to pawn it two days later.
A week later, Merck broke into another home while the victims were sleeping and stole a purse with some credit cards inside, Wang alleged. The defendant allegedly used the stolen credit cards four times the next day.
A week later, Merck ran from police on three consecutive days when they tried to arrest him, Wang said.
When an officer spotted Merck in a parking lot near Balboa Park last Friday, the nearby Naval Medical Center was placed on lockdown.
Merck was arrested the next day at the Chula Vista Public Library.
The defendant — who is on probation for robbery — faces more than 28 years in prison if convicted, according to Wang.
A readiness conference is scheduled July 24 and a preliminary hearing for July 28.