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SAN DIEGO — A San Diego police officer who was shot as he pursued a wanted man into a drainage tunnel in City Heights last fall yelled “shots fired!” moments after he followed the suspect into the tunnel, a fellow officer testified Monday.

Officer Nick Minx, a tactical flight officer who videotaped the pursuit from a San Diego police helicopter, testified as a preliminary hearing got underway for Ignacio Canela, who is accused of shooting Officer Tim Bell four times on the afternoon of Oct. 24.

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San Diego police officers investigate a shooting that injured a fellow officer in City Heights (October 24, 2013)

Minx, who narrated the aerial footage in court, testified that he heard Bell yell “shots fired!” soon after seeing him follow Canela into the drainage tunnel near state Route 15.

Minx said he saw Bell come back out of the tunnel and fall to the ground, with officers nearby transmitting “11-99” or “officer down” over the police radio.

Canela, 31, was arrested a short time later in a nearby backyard. He faces 40 years to life in prison in convicted of premeditated attempted murder and other charges.

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  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 the 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.

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, where he underwent surgery. Bell’s bulletproof vest likely prevented him from suffering considerably more serious — even fatal — injuries, authorities said.

Canela’s preliminary hearing is set to resume June 20. At its conclusion, Judge Kenneth So will decide if enough evidence was presented for the defendant to stand trial.

 

Story by Kelly Wheeler of City News Service.

SAN DIEGO — A man accused of shooting a San Diego police officer who chased him into a freeway culvert pleaded not guilty to premeditated attempted murder and other charges.

Ignacio Canela, 31, was ordered held with bail set at $1.6 million. He faces 40 years to life in prison if convicted of all charges.

CIgnacio Canela Arraignmentanela was arrested about 3:45 p.m. on Oct. 24, less than 15 minutes after allegedly shooting SDPD Officer Tim Bell four times in the culvert at the intersection of Interstate 805 and State Route 15.

Bell, a five-year member of the department, underwent emergency surgery and was expected to fully recover, according to SDPD Chief William Lansdowne.

The events that led to the shooting began about 2:15 p.m. Thursday, when officers put Canela under surveillance at a home on Wightman Street, Capt. Terry McManus said.

After about an hour, Canela, who was the subject of two felony arrest warrants, walked out of the house with a female companion, and they got into a silver Dodge SUV with him behind the wheel and drove off, he said.

The officers tailed the vehicle onto nearby SR-15, waited until a police helicopter arrived over the area and tried to pull over Canela as he exited the freeway onto Adams Avenue, the captain said.

The suspect refused to yield and sped off to the south over various city streets before reaching 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.

Officers chased Canela through a nearby canyon and into the dark drainage channel. Bell, the first to enter, promptly came under fire, suffering arm, leg and abdominal wounds, and was not able to return fire, according to police.

Bell’s bulletproof vest likely prevented him from suffering considerably more serious — even fatal — injury, McManus said.

A loaded pistol was found ditched in a nearby residential yard.

SAN DIEGO – A police chase in City Heights ended Thursday in a shooting that left a San Diego police officer hospitalized and the suspected assailant under arrest, police said.

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Detectives were conducting surveillance of a documented gang member at a residence on the 3700 block of Wightman Avenue at 2:15 p.m., according to SDPD Capt. Terry McManus. An hour later, officers started to purse the suspect, who left his residences in a vehicle and with an unknown woman, and attempted to stop them on northbound Interstate 15 near Adams Avenue exit.

In an attempt to evade the pursing officers, the suspect and passenger ditched the vehicle at the end of the 3000 block of Central Avenue and ran into the canyon in different directions, McManus said. Officers from both Southern and Mid-City divisions chased the suspect westbound into the canyon where I-15 and I-805 intersect.

The shooting took place in a water drainage tunnel in the canyon at the end of the chase near 2800 block of 39th Street, near Azalea Park, around 3:30 p.m., the captain said.

About 15 minutes after the shooting, police took the suspected shooter into custody in the 2100 block of Haller Street, on the opposite side of state Route 15 and Interstate 805 from the site of the gunfire.

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Officers transported the injured patrolman, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest, to Scripps Mercy Hospital where he will undergo surgery to be treated for a gunshot wounds to his chest, left leg and left arm, McManus said. The protective vest may have saved the officer’s life, according to McManus.

The officer was conscious and talking and is expected to make a full recovery, SDPD Chief William Lansdowne said.

Police identified the wounded patrolman as Officer Tim Bell of the SDPD Mid-City division.

Bell’s close relatives, including his wife and mother, were with him at the hospital as doctors prepared him for surgery, Lansdowne said.

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The suspect was named in a multiple-felony arrest warrant, but it was unclear what the crimes were, SDPD Detective Gary Hassen said. His name was unavailable pending booking.

Several agencies, including the U.S. Marshals, assisted SDPD in the search for the unidentified woman, who was taken into custody around 7:30 p.m., according to authorities.

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California Highway Patrol halted traffic for an hour on Interstate 805 and 15 while authorities searched nearby canyons.

This story will be updated as information becomes available.

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