State

Charges for 3 men in Riverbank robbery

A 22-year-old Empire man will face trial in the assault of a Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy who was shot at while he pursued robbery suspects, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

David Zaragoza will not face the more serious charge of attempted murder of a peace officer, which carried a maximum sentence of life in prison, said Deputy District Attorney Randy Fischer.

No one was injured in the September incident. Authorities said the five bullets fired from Zaragoza's semiautomatic weapon lodged in the back seat and roof of the car he was riding in as the deputy pursued Zaragoza and two other suspects near Enochs High School. The car crashed in Modesto's Village I neighborhood.

John Cosentino, 20, and Jose Rocha, 28, both of Modesto, will be charged along with Zaragoza on Aug. 11 for the robbery at the Elsumeri Market.

Three men fled with cash after the robbery and the sheriff's deputy spotted the car heading southbound on Terminal Avenue and began the pursuit. The chase ended in the area of Sylvan and Aria Way, when the car crashed into a wall, and its occupants ran. Deputies, Modesto police and the California Highway Patrol set up a search area while a sheriff's helicopter looked for the suspects. Authorities found the suspects hiding in bushes and a back yard.

Zaragoza remains in the Stanislaus County jail on $450,000 bail. Cosentino and Rocha are being held on $150,000 and $170,000 bail, respectively.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.

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