Man plead guilty to making criminal threats and resisting arrest

MURRIETA – A man who allegedly threatened the lives of two Hemet residents during separate confrontations that culminated in an officer-involved shooting pleaded guilty today to making criminal threats and resisting arrest.

Thomas Lewis Bernard, 44, was charged in September with eight felony counts, including assault with a deadly weapon, stemming from his alleged threats of violence against two property owners on Gilbert Street.

During a status hearing before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Elaine Johnson, the prosecution and defense announced a plea deal had been reached, under which all but two of the felony charges — plus multiple sentence-enhancing allegations — would be dropped. In exchange, Bernard acknowledged responsibility for two of the charges.

Johnson set a sentencing hearing for April 29. The proposed prison term was not immediately known. Bernard remains held in lieu of $500,000 bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.

According to Hemet police, on Sept. 8, Bernard got into an argument with a homeowner in the 500 block of Gilbert Street, during which he brandished a knife at the man and threatened his life.

Before officers could get there, Bernard fled the scene. However, about an hour later, in the same neighborhood, Bernard confronted another homeowner, threatening to assault the man with a knife and a hammer, police alleged.

Officers arrived moments later and tried to detain Bernard, who refused to drop his weapons and instead allegedly charged at the officers, who opened fire, shooting him twice, according to Hemet police Lt. Eric Dickson.

Bernard suffered non-life-threatening wounds and was booked into jail a week after undergoing surgery.

The reasons for the confrontations were not disclosed.

According to court records, Bernard has a 2006 conviction for misdemeanor assault and battery and spousal abuse, as well as a 1999 conviction for felony drug possession.

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