SAN DIEGO (AP) — Three teenagers are facing possible murder charges after a college student responding to a Craigslist ad followed the alleged assailants into a San Diego cul-de-sac and was fatally shot.
The 17-year-old suspects were arrested on suspicion of robbery and murder, authorities said Thursday.
Garrett Berki, 18, of San Diego was found slumped behind the wheel of his car late Wednesday, said Lt. Kevin Rooney. He died less than an hour later at a nearby hospital from a single bullet wound.
Berki exchanged text messages with the alleged assailants to arrange the purchase of an item in the gritty southeast San Diego neighborhood of Paradise Hills. Rooney declined to say what the item was, but said it had nothing to do with “drugs, prostitution or anything like that.”
“It was a legitimate item,” he said.
Berki drove with his 18-year-old girlfriend to meet the boys, who, after a brief conversation, robbed the couple of cash and cell phones, Rooney said.
“It does appear to have been a ruse robbery,” Rooney said.
Berki pursued the Honda Accord on a freeway and eventually to a cul-de-sac in an effort to get a license plate.
The cars approached from opposite directions and — as they were almost side by side — one of the teens fired a single shot.
The suspects were caught about 15 minutes later, hiding in yards as police searched with a helicopter, Rooney said. They fled on foot after the car crashed in another cul-de-sac about two blocks from where the shooting occurred.
Rashon Abernathy, Seandell Jones and Shaquille Jordan will be charged as adults Friday, said Steve Walker, a spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney’s office. Prosecutors had not decided which charges to file, he said.
It wasn’t immediately known if the three had attorneys.
Berki lived with his mother in San Diego’s seaside Pacific Beach area and attended community college. His parents went into seclusion after learning of his death, Rooney said.
Berki’s girlfriend was uninjured.
The alleged attack is not the first Craigslist encounter to take a deadly turn.
In Tacoma, Wash., a 23-year-old man was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison last month for a killing related to the online shopping site. Prosecutors said Kioshi Higashi targeted a family for home invasion after the family advertised a diamond ring on Craigslist.
Two men were charged with murder in February in the killing of Hazel Park, Mich., man who was trying to buy a cell phone on Craigslist.
A medical student was accused of killing a New York City masseuse in April 2009 after meeting her on Craigslist. Philip Markoff killed himself as he awaited trial.
Rooney advised Craigslist users to meet in populated areas during the day.
“Whenever you’re involved with Craigslist, keep in mind you’re dealing with strangers,” he said. “You don’t know if they’re good or bad.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
This is a story update. The previous story is below.
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A homicide investigation was under way Thursday in Paradise Hills, where an 18-year-old man was shot to death by one of three 17-year-old boys who posed as sellers on the website Craigslist in order to rob the victim moments earlier, police said.
Officers responding to a report of gunfire found the victim slumped over the wheel of his vehicle in the 3000 block of Artemia Way about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to San Diego police.
A short time earlier, the victim and his girlfriend had gone to the 2800 block of Casey Street to complete the purchase of an item offered for sale on Craigslist, SDPD homicide Lt. Kevin Rooney said.
Three 17-year-old black males, pretending to be sellers, robbed the couple of cash and cell phones, Rooney said, noting that afterwards, the suspects fled in a green Honda Accord, which the victim followed in his vehicle in an attempt to get a license plate number.
The Accord turned around in a cul-de-sac in the 3000 block of Artemia Way and headed toward the victim’s vehicle, according to the lieutenant.
“As the vehicles were next to each other, one of the suspects fired a shot, striking the victim,” Rooney said.
The Accord continued on and crashed in the 3000 block of Fleming Way, and the suspects bailed on foot. Police arrested all three suspects about one block from the crash location, with help from air and canine units.
The suspects will be booked into Juvenile Hall on suspicion of robbery and murder, Rooney said.
The name of the victim, who died shortly after arriving at a hospital, is being withheld until his family can be notified.
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