$1M bail set for man shot by SWAT snipers during Valentine’s Day standoff

SAN DIEGO — A man who was shot by SWAT officers during a Valentine’s Day standoff at a Paradise Hills home pleaded not guilty Tuesday to felony charges of assault with a semi-automatic firearm on a peace officer and negligent discharge of a firearm.

Martin Girdner, 54, is accused of pointing a firearm at four officers, as well as residents, at around 2 p.m. Feb. 14 in the 1800 block of Altamont Court.

Girdner, who’s been hospitalized since the shooting, was arraigned at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest. He faces more than 70 years in state prison if convicted of all charges.

He’s being held on $1 million bail and is due to appear in court March 7 for a readiness conference.

Officers initially responded after a woman called police stating that her ex-boyfriend was acting strangely. Neighbors also phoned police, saying a man had pointed a rifle at a resident driving by and had possibly fired the rifle, according to Lt. Matt Dobbs of the San Diego Police Department.

Officers arrived at the residence and attempted to talk with the man, who went into the backyard and fired at least one shot, Dobbs said.

A SWAT team and crisis negotiators responded to the scene and the suspect confronted two SWAT officers while aiming a gun at them, he said.

The SWAT officers, fearing for their safety, fired several shots at the suspect, who went down, then ran back into the residence, according to Dobbs.

Later that afternoon, the man walked from the rear of the residence and pointed a gun at officers, prompting three other SWAT officers to fire at the suspect, striking him at least once, Dobbs said. The suspect was taken into custody and taken to a hospital, where he underwent surgery for what were described as life-threatening gunshot wounds.

The officers — none of whom were injured — were identified by the San Diego Police Department as five-year veteran Jacob Castillo, six-year veteran Timothy Arreola, seven-year veteran Juan Ponce, 12-year veteran Aziz Brou and 16-year veteran Richard Butera.

Butera was involved in at least one other shooting in January 2014, when he shot and killed an unarmed man who claimed to have explosives and a gun while holding a driver hostage during a pursuit that led San Diego officers into Escondido.

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