MURRIETA (CNS) – A 25-year-old man accused of stealing a Lake Elsinore motorist’s vehicle at gunpoint pleaded not guilty on Friday to armed carjacking.
Dominic Michael Melgoza of Oceanside was arrested Tuesday after the alleged theft in the 31000 block of Riverside Drive.
Melgoza was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for June 29 at the Riverside Hall of Justice and set Melgoza’s bail at $130,000. The defendant is being held at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Brad Foster, about 10 p.m. Monday, a man was parked on Riverside, near Lakeshore Drive, when Melgoza allegedly approached him and leveled a black handgun at him, ordering the driver to relinquish the keys to his car, which he did.
“The victim fled his vehicle, and the suspect drove westbound on Riverside,” Foster said. “The victim immediately called 911.”
According to the sergeant, patrol deputies swarmed the area but were not immediately able to find the vehicle. However, about three hours later, a patrolman passing the intersection of Riverside and Lincoln Street spotted the victim’s car going west on Riverside.
Backup deputies were summoned, and moments later, Melgoza was directed to pull over. He complied, stopping adjacent to the Lakeside High School campus, Foster said.
Melgoza was taken into custody without incident. A search of the vehicle did not turn up the firearm allegedly used in the carjacking, according to Foster.
The defendant has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.