Lionel Ramirez. "I tried when he was younger to get him to stop hanging out with the gangs.”
Escondido police officer Steve Higgins said he was called to Orange Glen High School the early afternoon of Tuesday, December 18.
The officer said he spoke to one teacher, a man in his mid-50s, who reported that two non-students had come onto their campus that day as classes were ending. This teacher said he went to get campus security to assist him, to escort the two strangers off campus. But the teacher said a fight developed and one of the strangers used brass knuckles to strike him on the side of his face.
Officer Higgins spoke later to one student witness, on the phone, who told this cop that he heard the strangers say, “Where are you from?” and one yelled out “Diablo gang!” before the teacher was struck.
Escondido police officer Aaron Reber testified in San Diego County Superior court yesterday, January 7. Officer Reber said he interviewed one campus security officer who told him that he heard, “He’s got a weapon!” which caused him to get between one intruder and the teacher. Another security officer arrived on scene and both security personnel were on the ground struggling with one of the intruders when the first security officer got kicked in the head.
Security personnel were able to keep one suspect on the ground until police arrived.
The second security officer told police that he heard gang statements, including “Diablos!” and “That’s why we beat up your homies, this is Diablos!”
Escondido police officer Huy Quyach testified that he responded about 3 pm to Orange Glen High School in Escondido. Officer Quyach said he found a set of brass knuckles a few feet from where assault suspect Leonel Ramirez was being detained. “They are made out of a hard material, and used as a striking instrument.” Quyach said this particular brass knuckle set included a knife, although the blade was not exposed when Quyach first saw it.
Officer Quyach reviewed surveillance video and was able to identify the second intruder as Jesus R, a juvenile. Quyach said he saw a third suspect come out of a black car which had pulled up at the school; a person got out of the back seat of that car and ran through the main gate of the school toward the melee; this “long-haired” person kicked the head of one security guard who was on the ground.
The security guards were aware and did report that a person with long hair came close and kicked one in the head, in his face.
Leonel Ramirez, 18, was arrested by Escondido police on Tuesday, December 18. Ramirez had just turned 18 years old, five months prior to the incident. He is described in jail records as 5 feet 4 inches tall and 180 pounds. He remains in custody in lieu of $160,000 bail.
Ramirez pleads not-guilty to four felonies, including assaults with a deadly weapon with gang allegations. This is a “strike” case.
Ramirez is accused of possessing metal knuckles as one of the felony charges. This crime is described as a “wobbler,” meaning it can be a felony or misdemeanor; the penalty ranges from one year in County jail as a misdemeanor, or three years State prison as a felony. Metal knuckles are found under the heading of “deadly weapons” in the penal code.
Escondido police officer Nicholas Rodello, a gang detective for 7 years, testified as a gang expert. He told a judge that he is familiar with the Diablos. He said a gangster will yell out “Diablos” to give recognition to the gang, to intimidate witnesses, and to show that he is “putting out work, you are going out on a mission to commit a crime.”
Officer Rodello said he is familiar with defendant Leonel Ramirez, “Yes he is a member of the street gang Diablos. I have personally contacted him several times, and tried when he was younger to get him to stop hanging out with the gangs.” Rodello said that juvenile suspect Jesus R is also a member of the Diablos street gang.
Judge Carlos Armour ordered Ramirez to answer all charges and come back to court on February 24 to confirm a date for trial.