Man killed in front of Mira Mesa home was there to commit crime, cops say

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SAN DIEGO –Police say a teenager who was killed in front of a home in Mira Mesa Monday night was shot to death while committing a crime.

Investigators also announced that two people have been arrested in connection with the shooting death of 18-year-old James Martinez.

Chien Ngoc Pham, 22, is charged with first degree murder and participating in a gang felony. A 17-year-old juvenile is also facing charges, according to police.

Pham, Martinez and the juvenile suspect allegedly drove to the neighborhood in northern Mira Mesa on Monday night with the intention of committing a crime, Lt. Ray Valentin said, declining to disclose the nature of the alleged planned offense.

After the trio parked on Menkar Road, Martinez and one of his cohorts — Valentin would not say which one — walked to a home on nearby Markab Drive, where they confronted a resident and got into a shootout with him, the lieutenant alleged.

Officers responding to the gunfire arrived to find blood on the ground but no victim, according to Valentin. A short time later, however, Martinez was dropped off at Sharp Memorial Hospital, where he underwent emergency care before being pronounced dead several hours later.

Early the next morning, a SWAT team surrounded the residence where the shooting had occurred and directed the occupants to come outside. Officers then determined that the person they were seeking — the resident who had been involved in the exchange of gunfire — was not there.

Detectives located that man the next day, questioned him and released him. It was unclear if he might face criminal charges in the case, Valentin said.

Investigators arrested Pham, who was booked on suspicion of murder, and the teenage suspect, whose name was withheld because he is a minor, on Tuesday afternoon.

The suspects and the man they confronted were all believed to have gang ties, the lieutenant said.

Pham was being held at San Diego Central Jail without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Friday.


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