Local News

Friday, May 09 2014 05:11 PM

Suspect in March police shootout denies charges

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Miguel Villanueva was arraigned in Kern County Superior Court Friday.

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

The Bakersfield man accused of initiating a March 14 gunfight and police standoff lasting several hours pleaded not guilty to all charges Friday in his first court appearance.

Bond was set at $5 million for Miguel Villanueva, 29, who is charged with attempted murder, assault with a firearm on a peace officer, assault with a firearm on a person and taking a vehicle without the owner's consent, as well as several misdemeanors.

The incident leading to Villanueva's arrest began about 3 p.m. after he allegedly fled in a stolen car when a California Highway Patrol officer attempted to stop him for using his cellphone while driving. Villanueva eventually collided with a parked car near Belle Terrace and McDonald Way before fleeing on foot.

He barricaded himself in a garage in the 1000 block of McDonald Way. The Kern County Sheriff's Office SWAT and the BPD's SWAT and bomb squads arrived and used a robot to communicate with Villanueva. Villanueva's family members were later summoned to the scene in an attempt to convince him to surrender peacefully.

After several hours of negotiations, a shootout ensued during which Villanueva was shot several times.

An investigation determined four officers -- Detectives Chris Feola and Mason Woessner, Senior Officer Jeff Martin and Officer Keith Cason -- fired at Villanueva during the incident. A BPD review board determined April 4 the police were within the bounds of their authority.

During the ordeal dozens of police vehicles, a fire truck and ambulance were on the scene, and a several-block area was cordoned off. Some neighborhood residents were evacuated.

Villanueva was shot about 7 p.m. He remained in the hospital until he being booked into jail Wednesday. His right arm was in a sling during Friday's hearing.

His next court appearance is set for 9 a.m. May 21.

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