Men Accused in Gun Battle That Critically Wounded San Bernardino Officer Plead Not Guilty

Even though the three men charged in the case did not fire any weapons, they are being charged in the case, officials say

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    San Bernardino Police Department
    Gabriel Garcia, 31, was critically injured during a shootout in San Bernardino Friday morning. He was described by fellow officers as "exemplary in every sense of the word."

    Three men accused in a shooting that left a San Bernardino critically injured pleaded not guilty to attempted murder charges on Wednesday.

    Jonathan Contreras, 20; Orlando Cruz, 24; and Gonzalo Medina, 22, face two counts of attempted murder on a peace officer and possession of an assault rifle, prosecutors said. If convicted, they face life in prison.

    The charges stem from an Aug. 22 confrontation, during which San Bernardino Police Officer Gabriel Garcia was shot and critically hurt when Alex Alvarado, 38, who police said was in a gang, allegedly opened fire on him when he and his rookie partner walked up to a group in a San Bernardino neighborhood, police said

    The unnamed rookie officer killed Alvarado during an ensuing gun battle, police said.

    Even though the three men charged in the case did not fire any weapons, they are being charged in the case, said San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos.

    "The District Attorney's Office wants to make it very clear that if you aide and abet or are involved in a conspiracy in the assault or shooting of a peace officer, we will hold you accountable," Ramos said.

    Medina's wife, Andrea Valdez, told NBC4 on Wednesday that her husband "would never do anything like this."

    "He's a really good person, a really good father," Valdez said. "He was good to everybody he knew, so I don't know why this is happening to us. I just wish this wasn't happening."

    Garcia, a well-respected officer of more than six years, continued to recover Wednesday from a single gunshot wound to his head, police said. He was placed in a medically induced coma the night of the shooting.

    Garcia was struck by a bullet believed to have been fired from the .38 caliber pistol, police said.

    His father, longtime San Bernardino Police Capt. Ron Garcia, along with other family members, have been at his bedside praying for him to survive.

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