Mecca Kidnapping Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

City News Service

INDIO (CNS) – A 30-year-old man accused of forcing a motorist at
gunpoint to lead sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase in Mecca in 2020
again pleaded not guilty today to kidnapping and other charges.

Gutberto Antonio Rodriguez was ordered to return to court May 20 for a
trial-readiness conference.

Along with the kidnapping count, Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to
criminal threats, assault with a semi-automatic firearm and kidnapping during
the commission of a carjacking, along with several weapons-related sentence-
enhancing allegations.

Following a preliminary hearing at the Larson Justice Center in Indio,
a Riverside County Superior Court judge on April 1 ruled there was
sufficient evidence for Rodriguez to stand trial on the charges. He remains
held at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta on $1 million bail.

According to Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Davis, the Aug. 18,
2020, chase started when sheriff’s deputies attempted to pull over a car
near Lincoln Street and 62nd Avenue in Mecca, but Rodriguez, who was a
passenger in the vehicle, allegedly held the driver at gunpoint and
“instructed the driver to evade deputies.”

The brief high-speed chase was terminated near Avenue 60 and Johnson
Street, where Rodriguez ran off and managed to elude a search, Davis said.

On Sept. 3, 2020, deputies located the suspect in the 101000 block of
Sea Breeze Drive in North Shore, where he was taken into custody without
incident, the sheriff’s department reported. There was no word on how deputies
tracked him to that location.

Rodriguez also had a warrant out for his arrest stemming from separate
felony charges filed Aug. 21, 2020 — assault with a deadly weapon and
shooting at an occupied vehicle, and a misdemeanor count of brandishing a
weapon or firearm — which occurred in Mecca, court papers show.

Rodriguez was convicted of a misdemeanor hit-and-run that resulted in
property damage in 2018 but has no documented felony convictions in Riverside

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

CNS-04-20-2022 16:00

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