Placer County prosecutors want to file additional felony charges against a man already accused of murder and attempted murder in an April 6 standoff with law enforcement at a Roseville park.
Eric James Abril, 35, of Roseville is accused of taking two hostages during a shootout with police after California Highway Patrol officers tried to serve a search warrant at Mahany Park.
Police officials have said Abril shot a CHP officer at the park, before he took two hostages and shot them both during the standoff with police. James MacEgan of Roseville and his wife, Patricia MacEgan, were taken hostage at the park. MacEgan, 72, died from his injuries. His wife and the CHP officer were wounded by gunfire.
Abril was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with officers, police said. He was hospitalized until the following evening, when he was booked at the Placer County Jail.
Deputy District Attorney David Tellman is now seeking to add two counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, alleging that Abril also fired gunshots at two other officers during the April 6 standoff with police.
Initial murder and attempted murder charges
Abril is accused of murder in MacEgan’s death along with special allegations of using a 10 mm handgun to kidnap the victim while committing the crime, according to a criminal complaint filed April 10 by the Placer County District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors also have charged Abril with aggravated kidnapping causing bodily harm in holding MacEgan’s wife at gunpoint along with special allegations of using the handgun in the crime.
The criminal complaint also indicates that Abril is accused of attempted murder of a peace officer, CHP Officer Matthew Hiatt, with special allegations that Abril used the handgun and was wearing a body-armor vest in the crime. Abril also faces a charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a gun.
DA files new court motion in shooting case
The District Attorney’s Office wants to amend the April 10 criminal complaint against Abril. In a motion filed Aug. 18, Tellman wrote that reports prosecutors have received since the April shooting at the park provide a legal basis to file the additional attempted murder charges against Abril.
It’s unclear what new information was in those reports. Only Hiatt and the woman taken hostage were wounded. No other injuries in the park shooting have been reported.
In an attached draft of the proposed amended complaint, prosecutors allege Abril fired the handgun at peace officers Tyson Becker and Leo Smith. The additional attempted murder charges would also have the same special allegations for using the handgun and body armor vest.
Becker is a Sacramento County deputy probation officer and Smith is a CHP officer, according to compensation records provided by the county and state to Transparent California. Numerous law enforcement officials from agencies in the surrounding area were called to Mahany Park that afternoon to assist, but it’s unclear which roles Becker and Smith played in the park shootout.
Jail inmate escapes
The prosecution also is asking the court to combine Abril’s case in the park shooting with a separate case filed after he reportedly escaped from Placer County Sheriff’s Office custody in July.
Abril had been in sheriff’s custody until July 9, when he escaped from Sutter Roseville Medical Center. He was being guarded by a sheriff’s deputy but managed “to defeat his restraints” and slip out of the hospital shortly after 3 a.m.
A 33-hour manhunt followed as officials from several law enforcement agencies in the region searched parts of Roseville and Rocklin for any sight of the murder suspect. Abril was captured in Rocklin along Antelope Creek, where a resident spotted the escaped inmate who had nothing on but jail-issued underwear.
Prosecutors on July 12 filed an additional felony charge of escaping from law enforcement custody while felony charges are pending.
Judge Colleen Nichols this week was expecting to hear arguments from both sides on the prosecution’s request to add felony charges against Abril and combine his criminal cases. Abril returned to Placer Superior Court Tuesday morning for the hearing, which only lasted about 3 minutes.
The prosecutor, Tellman, told the judge that he agreed with Abril’s attorneys to postpone the hearing until Sept. 19. He said the defense attorneys have promised to file in court any opposition to the prosecution’s motion by Sept. 8.
A preliminary hearing for the court to determine whether there’s enough evidence for Abril to stand trial remains scheduled to start Nov. 6. But it’s unclear whether new charges against Abril will delay that hearing.