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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / OXNARD

3 Teens Deny Guilt in Shooting Case

September 17, 1998|TINA DIRMANN

Three Oxnard teenagers accused of shooting at an off-duty officer earlier this week entered not guilty pleas in a Ventura County courtroom Wednesday.

Jeffrey Nelson, 19, and Michael Branch and David Burns, both 18, were arrested Monday. They pleaded not guilty to charges of assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm. Nelson and Branch also entered not guilty pleas to a count of vehicle theft.

Authorities say several men pulled up beside Officer Allen Jones' sports car as they drove along the Rincon about 12:30 a.m. Monday. A gunman in the front passenger seat rolled down his window and fired a handgun at Jones, authorities said.

Bullets pierced the left front fender of Jones' car, but the officer was not injured.

The group apparently did not know that Jones was an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer in Santa Barbara, police said. It is not clear what prompted the attack.

Jones called the CHP after the shooting to report the incident and give a description of the shooters. A patrol officer arrested the men 25 minutes later after spotting the suspects' sedan in Ventura, police said.

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