Pacifica Gang Member Pleads Not Guilty to Shooting at Officer

Michael Apolinario, 25, of Pacifica faces attempted murder charges and other gang crimes that, if convicted, could land him in prison for life.

Three suspected gang members who were involved in a shooting with a San Bruno police officer in May pleaded not guilty Tuesday to attempted murder and other gang charges, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office said.

Michael Apolinario, 25, of Pacifica and Daniel Garcia, 23, and Diego Bernal, 18, both of San Bruno, who are all documented gang members, were arrested May 26.

Police said they were involved in a confrontation near San Bruno Avenue and Third Avenue early that morning and that several of them were chasing a male along the sidewalk toward the Valero gas station on Second and San Bruno avenues. Apparently, they were in the neighborhood to kill a rival gang member, police said.

After a chase with an officer who tried to stop the car they were riding in, which was stolen, one of the suspects, believed to be Garcia, turned and fired a handgun twice at the officer. The officer was unharmed.

A gun belonging to Garcia was found later in a backyard by a 9-year-old boy playing with his sister, the district attorney's office said. The boy thought it was a toy and brought the gun to his mother and asked if he could play with it.

The three men are all Norteño gang members, the district attorney's office said, and Garcia and Apolinario were recently released from state prison.

If convicted of the gang crimes, they could face life in prison.

They are expected to appear back in court on Dec. 18 for a preliminary hearing. All of the men remain in custody without bail.

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