Garcia Arraigned In Murder Of Gunnery Sergeant McDonald

18-year-old Rudy Garcia, Jr. has entered not guilty pleas to murder, attempted carjacking, attempted robbery, two attempted murder and two assault with a semi-automatic firearm charges stemming from the violent rampage he engaged in on Monday night, May 20 in Twentynine Palms, which left Robert McDonald, a Marine, dead.
McDonald was shot in the culmination of a flurry of acts that took place just after sunset that evening.
According to the sheriff’s department, Garcia was one of a group of four or five young men who were consuming alcohol and creating a disturbance in the vicinity of Alpine Road and Old Dale Road. Around 7:49 p.m., they belligerently confronted a resident, at which point the man testily responded, provoking Garcia, who produced a gun and fired several shots at the man but missed.
After the gunfire, the group scattered, with most of the others heading north and west and Garcia running southeast toward nearby Knott Sky Park. McDonald was parked in his vehicle with his dog near the dog park at the south end of Knott Sky Park near El Sol Avenue and Foothill Drive. Garcia came up on McDonald and, according to the sheriff’s department, “without provocation” and in an apparent effort to steal his car, shot the 35-year-old gunnery sergeant in the head.The gravely wounded McDonald sought to drive off, but lost control of his car and rammed into a parked vehicle, which had several occupants, reportedly a young family.
Deputies responded to the scene shortly thereafter and attempted to render McDonald lifesaving assistance. Nevertheless, he died before he received any further medical attention.
Garcia, yet on foot, had by that time headed west. Deputies looking for him spotted him several minutes later near the intersection of Sullivan Avenue and Eucalyptus Avenue. He was taken into custody there. Deputies recovered a gun he was carrying believed to have been used in McDonald’s killing.
In addition to the murder, attempted carjacking, attempted robbery, attempted murder and assault with a firearm charges, the district attorney also filed three count enhancements of discharging a firearm and causing great bodily injury, two enhancements of discharging a firearm and two enhancements pertaining to use of a firearm in the commission of a crime against Garcia.
His arraignment was conducted telephonically this morning before Judge Rasheed S. Alexander between the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, where he is being held, and the Department M2 at the Joshua Tree Courthouse. The People of California were represented by Deputy District Attorney Jason Gueltzow. Garcia was represented by attorney William Sasnet.
Not guilty pleas were entered on the seven felonies – PC187(A)-F, PC664-PC215(A)-F, PC664-PC211-F2, PC664-PC187(A)-F, PC664-PC187(A)-F, PC245(B)-F and PC245(B)-F – and the 13 sentencing enhancements – PC12022.53(C)-E, PC12022.53(B)-E, PC12022.53(D)-E, PC12022.53(D)-E, PC12022.53(B)-E, PC12022.53(C)-E, PC12022.53(C)-E, PC12022.53(B)-E, PC12022.53(D)-E, PC12022.53(C)-E, PC12022.53(B)-E, PC12022.53(C)-E and PC12022.53(B)-E – alleged against him. In addition, he pleaded not guilty with regard to what the district attorney’s office alleges were conditional circumstances related to the crimes he is charged with – two separate PC12022.5(A)-(D)-A use-of-a-firearm conditions – which if affirmed at trial would require that any sentences he is given on those crimes run consecutively rather than concurrently.
Officials with the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center stated McDonald, who had enlisted in the Marines in 2010, was serving at the time of his death as an operational contract support specialist. The base in reaction to his death solemnly pronounced, “The base command is grieving along with the McDonald family and Sergeant McDonald’s fellow Marines and is working diligently to provide them with all necessary support during this very painful time.”
-Mark Gutglueck

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