Armed robbers got shot by their victim, deputies say

Wounded defendants brought into court

Italian restaurant in Vista California strip mall, reportedly where a victim shot at robbers.
  • Italian restaurant in Vista California strip mall, reportedly where a victim shot at robbers.
  • Image by Bob Weatherston

Two men who were allegedly shot when they tried to rob a Vista restaurant earlier this month were brought into court on January 8.

Louis Enrique Cruz, 18, and Sergio Rivera Ramos, 24, both pleaded not-guilty to six felonies in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.

Both Cruz and Ramos denied kidnap, attempted robbery, and assault with a firearm on three different victims: a 20-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman, and a 45-year-old man. Both defendants were also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a probationer.

The robbery attempt reportedly happened at 9:38 on January 3. According to a deputy’s report, one of the victims contacted authorities at 9:42 p.m.

The man claimed “two males entered the restaurant with guns and he retrieved his own handgun and shot the suspects in self defense,” according to a statement by sheriff’s Sgt. Jay Pavlenko. The alleged victim “fired eight shots from his handgun at the suspects while in the business” and “believed he hit both suspects in the upper body area,” the sergeant stated.

“The suspects fled the restaurant on foot through the back door of the business,” according to the report.

Officers responded to a call from Uncle Tony’s Italian Cuisine, an eatery in a corner of the strip mall at 770 Sycamore Avenue. Deputies sealed the area and used a canine and their helicopter to search for suspects.

More than two hours later, after midnight, two persons arrived at the emergency room of Tri-City Hospital in Oceanside. Their gunshot wounds were described as not life threatening by officials. Both of the wounded men reportedly claimed they were shot while walking near a park in Oceanside.

Each suspect was described as “armed with handgun” in a report by sheriff’s deputy Christopher Campbell. Cruz and Ramos were taken into custody after 3 a.m. Saturday morning, January 4.

Cruz is held in lieu of $1.1 million bail. Ramos, 24 is being held without bail.

Ramos was in the same San Diego County courthouse last November, when a judge ordered him to serve 240 days in custody; that sentence was for four criminal cases: carrying a pistol on his person, making a criminal threat on a deputy, hit-and-run, and driving under the influence of meth with a prior. At that hearing, the judge ordered Ramos not to associate with any known member of the Posole street gang, which claims parts of Oceanside.

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Your Sheriff violates your rights by not issuing concealed carry permits.

That's a busy strip center with a Stater Brothers store close by. They were pretty bold to try to pull off a robbery at that time. I do wonder about the shooter. I mean, he fires eight shots, hits both of them, and neither one is a potentially fatal wound. He needs some firearms training. Actually though, both are lucky to be alive, although with the time they'll do for this one, "lucky" is relative.

That center is a long way from Posole. Usually they don't go that far afield. Better they should have stayed in their own 'hood.

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