Cambrian Resident

Man charged with attempted murder of officers

- By Robert Salonga rsalonga@ bayareanew­

SAN JOSE >> A man who authoritie­s allege was “stalking” police before opening fire on patrol officers during a traffic stop and later wounding another officer at a home standoff has been charged with four counts of attempted murder.

Luis Alberto Cantu, 37, of San Jose was charged Feb. 8 by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. Authoritie­s confirmed that one of his aliases is Noe Orlando Mendoza, the name that San Jose police used to identify him at a news conference Feb. 7 about the shootings.

Cantu was arraigned on the charges Feb. 8 in a San Jose courtroom, but not before some momentary confusion about whether he was at the courthouse.

Judge Elizabeth Peterson read out loud in court the attempted murder charges, each of which is accompanie­d by allegation­s that he targeted a police officer, acted with premeditat­ion, and used a 9 mm Glock-style, privately made firearm — which police described as an unserializ­ed ghost gun — in the shooting.

One of the attempted murder charges also carries an allegation that he caused great bodily injury, which is connected to the officer who was wounded. The added allegation­s, if found true by a jury, expose Cantu to more years in prison.

Peterson also remanded Cantu back to the Santa Clara County Main Jail without bail, citing the “very violent nature of the charges in this case,” and saying that if he were to be released, “the public

at large would be in great danger.”

Cantu did not enter a plea, and Peterson ordered him to return to court April 3.

After the arraignmen­t, District Attorney Jeff Rosen voiced relief that none of the targeted officers was killed and said that by trying to shoot them, Cantu was targeting “our whole community.”

“You may have many questions about this crime. Why did he try to gun down officers last Friday night? Some answers may come as this case moves forward,” Rosen said. “There is no good or rational answer.”

“Today, the officers are where they should be, alive,” Rosen added. “The defendant is where he should be right now, behind bars.”

San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata said at the earlier news conference that investigat­ors believe Cantu was following and looking for police officers to confront Feb. 3. Mata added that in the aftermath of the reported crime spree, which left one police officer headed to the hospital for a gunshot wound, Cantu “repeatedly asked after he was taken into custody if

he killed any officers.”

Police say surveillan­ce footage and images captured by city-installed license plate-reading cameras show that around 8:15 Feb. 3, someone matching Cantu's descriptio­n and driving a car later linked to him was seen parked near police headquarte­rs on West Mission Street. About 20 minutes later, police say Cantu was parked near an SJPD substation at Mineta San Jose Internatio­nal Airport, and drove off as officers tried to contact him.

In at least one instance, Cantu and his vehicle were recorded following two patrol vehicles in the ensuing two hours.

Around 10:30 p.m., Mata said two patrol officers riding in the same vehicle stopped Cantu at a gas station near King and Story roads after he was seen driving erraticall­y and running through a red light.

Police said after he stopped, Cantu immediatel­y got out of his car and shot at the officers with a handgun, hitting their patrol SUV several times.

The officers, who were not hit, returned fire, hitting Cantu's car at least

half a dozen times as he sped away.

An ensuing investigat­ion led to Cantu being identified as the shooting suspect, and police went to his home on Sinbad Avenue, about a mile northeast of the gas station. Around 1 a.m., police said Cantu showed up on foot and entered the home. Around 3 a.m., a contingent of officers — including the special-tactics MERGE unit — staged in front of the home, and called out to Cantu to come out and surrender.

Police said Cantu exited the house through a back entrance and hopped a fence into a neighborin­g yard, prompting an officer to throw a flash-bang grenade in the yard. Cantu then perched himself on a fence and opened fire at the assembled officers. One of the officers was hit by two bullets, one in his hip and the other in his protective vest.

Mata said the officers did not return fire; surveillan­ce footage from the scene shows that after opening fire, Cantu appears to have dropped down the from the fence and out of view.

Soon after, Cantu surrendere­d and was detained by police.

 ?? PHOTOS COURTESY OF SAN JOSE POLICE ?? A patrol vehicle shows bullet holes after authoritie­s say Luis Alberto Cantu, who also goes by the alias Noe Orlando Mendoza, opened fire on officers during a traffic stop the night of Feb. 3.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF SAN JOSE POLICE A patrol vehicle shows bullet holes after authoritie­s say Luis Alberto Cantu, who also goes by the alias Noe Orlando Mendoza, opened fire on officers during a traffic stop the night of Feb. 3.
 ?? ?? Cantu

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