Bank robbery suspect faces judge

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SAN DIEGO — A man who allegedly held up a Mira Mesa credit union office, then led police and sheriff’s personnel on a high-speed, four-city pursuit that ended with his arrest in Carlsbad, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of robbery and evading police with reckless driving.

Thomas Joseph Dufek, 29, was ordered held on $150,000 bail.

Dufek allegedly robbed the Navy Federal Credit Union branch in the 10800 block of Black Mountain Road about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

When officers caught up with Dufek’s white Toyota pickup truck a short time later, he refused to yield, instead fleeing to the north over city streets and onto northbound Interstate 15, San Diego police Lt. Eric Hays said.

The suspect sped through northern San Diego and Escondido, then headed west on state Route 78 and crossed into San Marcos, where sheriff’s personnel began tailing him.

The pursuit, which reached speeds in excess of 100 mph, came to an end after Dufek entered Carlsbad and ran over a tire-flattening spike strip laid in his path by officers. He pulled to a stop on Palomar Airport Road, bailed out of his crippled truck and ran off to the south, climbing over fences and traipsing through residential yards.

Deputies finally caught up with the suspect in the area of Rancho Del Canon and Rancho La Presa streets, near Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park, and took him into custody without further incident, sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said.

Dufek will be back in court Jan. 23 for a readiness conference and Feb. 15 for a preliminary hearing. He faces five years and eight months in prison if convicted.

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