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Ex-Fiance, 2nd Man Deny Firing at Police Cadet

February 14, 1991|ROD WADE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two men accused of firing several shots into the car of a Los Angeles police cadet, who had recently broken her engagement with one of the men, pleaded not guilty last week to charges of attempted murder.

Dagoberto Barajas, 28, of Glendale and Carlos Cruz, 20, of Canoga Park entered their pleas during separate arraignments in Glendale Municipal Court. They are charged with the attempted murder of Gretchen Carnes, 22, Barajas' former fiancee.

Carnes, who has been training at the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park for two months, was shot at as she drove east on the Foothill Freeway near the Glendale Freeway interchange about 4:30 a.m. Feb. 4. She told police that a blue Honda CRX pulled alongside her and an occupant fired at her four or five times.

Carnes told investigators that her assailants' car looked like one belonging to a Barajas family member and that Barajas often used the car, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Detective James Crider said.

Police found a vehicle matching the description given by Carnes at Barajas' residence, where he was arrested about two hours after the shooting, Crider said.

Investigators eventually concluded that Cruz, who worked with Barajas in Sepulveda, fired the shots that hit Carnes' 1987 Ford Mustang, while Barajas drove the Honda. Cruz was arrested Feb. 6 at his workplace.

In a search of a third location, police found a handgun they believe was used in the shooting, Crider said, but a ballistics examination of the weapon is not yet complete.

Crider said Carnes told police that she broke off her engagement to Barajas within the three weeks before the shooting, but declined to say whether he thought that was the motive.

Barajas was arraigned Feb. 6 and faces a preliminary hearing today. Cruz was arraigned Friday and his preliminary hearing is scheduled Wednesday. Both men are being held without bail at the Los Angeles County Jail.

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