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DA: Gang member accused of running down cop has criminal past

VISTA, Calif. -- A San Marcos man accused of running down a motorcycle officer with a car while the lawman was conducting a traffic stop near Buddy Todd Park in Oceanside pleaded not guilty Wednesday to attempted murder on a peace officer.

Roberto Ignacio Flores, 26, was ordered held on $5 million bail and faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe.

“The defendant is charged with attempted murder on a peace officer, which carries a term of 15 years to life in state prison. In addition to that, he’s charged with causing great bodily injury to that officer, as well as committing this crime while he was out on bail on an open felony case. In total, he’s looking at a term of 20 years to life in state prison,” said Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe.

Flores was arrested late Monday morning, shortly after he allegedly rammed 29-year Oceanside Police Department veteran Brad Hunter with a silver Dodge Neon on Foussat Road, OPD spokesman Tom Bussey said.

The sedan hit Hunter about 10:30 a.m. as he was standing next to the driver's side of a pulled-over vehicle and then continued on to the south, according to investigators.

Witnesses reported that the hit-and-run driver appeared to have steered the car into the victim on purpose.

“Officer Hunter was struck by the car, rolled onto the front of the windshield, breaking the glass and was thrown from the front of the vehicle,” said Watanabe.

Flores kept going for several blocks before pulling to a stop in a traffic lane on Industry Street near El Camino Real, where he and a male passenger jumped out of the car and ran off, according to Bussey.

Officers found Flores a short time later at a nearby light-rail station and took him into custody.

“The defendant is an affiliate of Barrio San Marcos Gang. He had 14 arrests in the last seven years for burglary, drugs and theft. He had two recent cases in which he evaded police and a deputy sheriff case and then resisted police in a Carlsbad Police Department case. Most importantly, he has an open felony case in which he’s charged with being a felon in possession of an assault rifle and ammunition. He committed this offense while he was out on bail in that case,” said Watanabe.

Good Samaritans aided the injured officer, who was conscious and alert following the crash, prior to the arrival of emergency personnel. Medics then airlifted him to a trauma center, where he underwent emergency surgery for serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

The longtime officer is expected to recover, Bussey said.

A readiness conference is scheduled for June 30 and a preliminary hearing for July 6.