Marines Accused of Blocking San Diego Zoo Passengers Enter Plea – NBC 7 San Diego
Four active duty Marines were in superior court on Tuesday to face charges of criminal vandalism after an alleged stunt during a ride at the San Diego Zoo pinned about 100 riders above the park for hours.
The Marines, who all pleaded not guilty when arraigned on Tuesday, all remain free on $20,000 bonds. The judge ordered all the men to stay away from the zoo. Going forward, Marines will all be assigned defense attorneys.
NBC 7’s Dave Summers details the charges against the four Marines.
sergeant. Jacob Dean Bauer, 23, Lance Cpl. Pierre Brayden Posey, 20, Cap. Brandon Gregory Cook, 21, and Lance Cpl. Marquette Alexander Williams, 21, allegedly shook the Skyfari Aerial Tram gondola they were riding in, according to SDPD officer Darius Jamsetjee.
The defendants, who each face up to three years in prison if convicted of the vandalism charge, are due back in court on March 22.
A prosecutor told NBC 7 after court there was more than $400 in damage to the gondola ride, which is why the case rises to a felony charge.
“We take every case seriously, and especially in this case, where people have been put in harm’s way, but whether they’re Marines or not, every case is assessed equally,” the deputy district attorney said. Abrey Zora District at NBC 7.
San Diego firefighters rescued passengers from the Skyfari gondola at the San Diego Zoo on Saturday after they were stranded for about an hour due to vandalism, officials said. NBC 7’s Madison Weil reports.
Maj. Mason Englehart, director of communications for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, confirmed to NBC 7 on Jan. 31 that the Marines are assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 225 (VMFA 225), which is based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. The four men were in San Diego while training at MCAS Miramar, where the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing is based.
About 100 passengers were on board the ride when it was forced to stop. It took zoo staff and San Diego fire crews just over two hours to help them all.
“Anyone found in violation of the law or the guideline will be held appropriately accountable,” Englehart wrote, in part, in an email to NBC 7, adding that his “behavior is contrary to our core values, and 3d MAW is conducting a separate investigation into the matter as we take misconduct very seriously.
The Marines could be charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), federal laws that apply to all active duty military personnel, officials said.