ESCONDIDO — A 25-year-old ex-convict accused of fleeing and firing on police during a chase through Escondido pleaded not guilty March 24 to 27 felony charges.
Eric Anthony Pomatto, a transient, is charged with 11 counts of attempted murder, nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and other charges in connection with the March 19 chase that ended at a restaurant in Westfield North County Fair mall.
If convicted of all counts, Pomatto faces up to 158 years in prison. He is being held without bail. A preliminary hearing was set for April 7.
At the brief arraignment hearing, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza said Pomatto “harbored an intent to kill.”
Escondido police said Pomatto fired on officers around 6 p.m. March 19 after they responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle on South Rose Street. After running a check, police discovered the Honda Accord Pomatto was driving had been reported stolen from Chula Vista.
According to authorities, Pomatto had been parked in front of his ex-girlfriend’s father’s house for several hours before police showed up.
Pomatto then fled along Midway Drive, near Bear Valley Parkway, at which time police said he fired shots at them and at a law enforcement helicopter through the stolen car’s windows and sunroof.
During the 15-minute pursuit, police said Pomatto fired a pistol and shotgun at seven police officers; however, authorities did not return fire.
On Craigmore Avenue, police said Pomatto shot through the windshield of a K-9 unit, which tore through the ornamental shoulder piece of the officer and lodged in the back seat near his dog.
The chase continued until Pomatto stopped his vehicle near the On the Border restaurant at Westfield North County mall and surrendered.
Last November, Pomatto was convicted in Butte County on two counts of criminal threats.