A documented gang member accused of opening fire on two men in Desert Hot Springs during a gun sale turned robbery, leaving one of them hospitalized with several gunshot wounds, must stand trial on attempted murder and attempted robbery charges, a judge ruled Monday.
Richard Alex Bernal, 21, of Desert Hot Springs, is accused of firing about 10 rounds at the two targets — hitting one of the men four times — during what prosecutors described as pre-arranged gun sale on Aug. 15, 2018.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Russell Moore found sufficient evidence was presented at the defendant’s preliminary hearing at the Larson Justice Center to proceed to trial on two counts each of attempted murder and attempted robbery.
According to Desert Hot Springs police, two men arranged via Facebook Messenger to meet with Bernal at Super Liquor on Palm Drive in Desert Hot Springs on the day of the shooting to purchase a handgun. After meeting at the liquor store, all three men walked to a nearby lot off Buena Vista Avenue to have the discussion, and Bernal briefly left to go into a nearby house and allegedly returned with a 9mm handgun, police Detective Larry Gaines testified.
Sometime after one of the men said he had $300 to buy the gun, Bernal stepped back, inserted a magazine into the handgun, pointed it at the man’s head and said “What else do you got?” Gaines said, recounting an interview he had with the victim in the days following the shooting.
Gaines said the shooting victim identified Bernal in a photographic lineup after officers went to visit him after he underwent surgery for gunshot wounds to the abdomen, bicep and hip areas.
Desert Hot Springs police worked with the Coachella Valley Violent Crime Gang Task Force to identify Bernal as a suspect and arrested him on Sept. 28, 2018, near the 66000 block of Acoma Avenue, Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Paul Heredia said at the time.
A search warrant served at Bernal’s residence turned up “evidence related to the attempted homicide,” Heredia alleged.
Bernal, who remains in custody at the Indio jail in lieu of $1 million bail, is scheduled to return to court for a post-preliminary hearing arraignment on Jan. 6.