Man pleads not guilty to attempted murder in shootout with deputies

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – An ex-con accused of opening fire on a group of lawmen investigating a report of domestic violence at the Barona Indian Reservation, shooting his girlfriend in the process, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to nearly 20 felony counts, including five counts of attempted murder on a peace officer.

Gianni Oliver, 23, faces life imprisonment if convicted of charges stemming from the Jan. 31 shooting, in which the deputies returned fire. No deputies were injured, but Oliver’s 23-year-old girlfriend was shot during the exchange, allegedly by the defendant, according to sheriff’s Lt. Thomas Seiver.

She was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at a hospital, Seiver said.

The lawmen involved have been identified as San Diego County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Cruz and Deputies Bryson Benavente, Tony Bernal, Nicholas McGregor and Robert Simpson.

According to Seiver, the deputies were investigating a report of “a domestic incident involving a man and a woman” about 8:20 p.m. in the 4000 block of Capitan Grande. While they were speaking with Oliver’s girlfriend, the defendant allegedly started shooting at the deputies, who returned fire.

Oliver surrendered following a brief standoff, Seiver said. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of a minor injury, but he was not shot, the lieutenant said.

In addition to the attempted murder counts, Oliver is charged with seven counts of assault with a semi-automatic firearm in connection with his girlfriend and the deputies, along with six counts of being a felon or prohibited person in possession of a firearm. He additional faces one count of robbery pertaining to an unrelated crime that occurred the same day as the shooting.

The criminal complaint states that Oliver has a 2016 San Diego County conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.

He was ordered held without bail, and his next court date is a March 1 readiness conference.

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