RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A felon who robbed a Perris store and shot at a security guard while making his getaway, then later attempted to evade sheriff’s deputies, was sentenced Friday to 20 years in state prison.
Jose Rangel, 32, pleaded guilty in April to attempted robbery, shooting at an occupied vehicle and felony evading as part of a plea agreement with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. In exchange for his admissions, prosecutors dropped two related charges.
During a hearing Friday at the Riverside Hall of Justice, Superior Court Judge Mark Johnson certified the plea deal and imposed the term of imprisonment stipulated by the prosecution and defense.
Rangel’s co-defendant, 33-year-old David Joseph Esparza, pleaded guilty in 2018 to identical charges and was sentenced to three years in state prison.
According to sheriff’s officials, shortly after midnight on March 28, 2018, Rangel and Esparza stormed the Circle K at 3995 Perris Blvd., where Rangel leveled a handgun at the clerk while Esparza stole various merchandise.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Curt Harris said at the time a security guard working a night shift in the area happened to stop by the outlet and was just stepping inside when the ex-cons, frightened by the uniform, bolted outside, nearly knocking the man over. The pair fled in an SUV, which the victim attempted to follow, Harris said.
“One of the (defendants) fired his weapon at the guard and accelerated to distance themselves from the witness,” the sergeant said, adding that the guard immediately backed off and returned to the store.
Harris said the defendants could not be located by deputies. However, investigators quickly obtained evidence that led to the identification of Esparza as one of the bandits, according to the sergeant.
The following day, deputies staked out a residence in the 23000 block of Alma Street in Perris, where Esparza was believed to be holed up, Harris said. After several hours, the probationer, Rangel and a 19-year-old woman were observed leaving in an SUV that matched the description given by the guard.
“When (deputies) attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver led them on a pursuit around the southern part of Perris,” Harris said. “The pursuit ended in the same area where it began, and the occupants of the vehicle fled (on foot) in different directions.”
With the help of a sheriff’s helicopter crew, deputies soon tracked down and arrested the trio without a struggle. No one was injured.
The woman was questioned and released.
According to court records, Rangel had prior convictions for burglary and auto theft. Esparza had prior convictions for auto theft, hit-and-run resulting in property damage and obstructing a peace officer.
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