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San Diego Fugitive Captured

— An East County man who skipped bail five weeks ago while facing charges of robbery, domestic violence and attempted murder in several criminal cases was captured Thursday.

Michael Edward LaChappa, 34, was taken into custody during a morning traffic stop in the Winterhaven area of Imperial County, sheriff's Sgt. Fran Passalacqua said. At the time of his arrest, he had a rifle in his vehicle, she said.

LaChappa, who has a lengthy criminal history, had been a fugitive since Oct. 27, when he failed to appear for a court hearing involving the most recent set of charges against him, the sergeant said.

In that case, he is accused of assaulting and robbing the owner of a Lakeside-area tattoo shop, Passalacqua said. During the Oct. 16 crime, LaChappa also allegedly punched his own wife, who had accompanied him to the business.

Deputies arriving in response to a 911 call from the owner of the Las Coches Road parlor arrested LaChappa at the scene. Both victims declined medical treatment.

On the night of the robbery, LaChappa, a member of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and a resident of the tribe's reservation near Alpine, was out on bail and awaiting trial in an attempted murder case.

Those charges date to 2008, when the suspect allegedly opened fire on a couple's house on the reservation while they were home. Though the residence was riddled with more than 60 bullets, the victims escaped injury, the sergeant said.

The motive for the shooting is unclear. The couple told investigators they were acquainted with LaChappa but were unaware of any reason why he might want to do them harm, according to Passalacqua, who described him as "a very scary individual."

Earlier that year, LaChappa prompted a law enforcement standoff by barricading himself in a home on the reservation when deputies tried to serve him with a warrant charging him with misdemeanor spousal abuse and felony threats against a crime witness.

After about five hours, the suspect finally walked out of the house on Viejas Grade Road and surrendered to SWAT officers.

Following LaChappa's latest arrest, San Diego County sheriff's deputies picked him up in Imperial County and brought him back to their jurisdiction to face charges in the several open criminal cases against him, Passalacqua said.

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