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Public Safety

Suspect In Bankers Hill Standoff Pleads Not Guilty To Attempted Murder

Two members of the San Diego police SWAT team respond to an incident at an apartment complex in Bankers Hill, Nov. 4, 2015.
Susan Page
Two members of the San Diego police SWAT team respond to an incident at an apartment complex in Bankers Hill, Nov. 4, 2015.

A Las Vegas man who is accused of opening fire on San Diego police during a nearly 5 1/2-hour standoff at his ex-girlfriend's Bankers Hill apartment pleaded not guilty Friday to three counts of premeditated attempted murder of a peace officer.

Titus Nathan Colbert, who's also charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, was ordered held without bail. He faces 105 years to life in prison if convicted.

After being brought into court, Colbert said he stood for the "new world order" and would not be subjected to "criminal abuse."

When the 33-year-old defendant would not stop his verbal tirade, Judge David Szumowski had him removed from the courtroom.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said a woman called police Wednesday about 9:15 a.m., saying her ex-boyfriend may have gained access to her fourth-floor apartment on Brant Street.

When officers checked a rear bedroom of the apartment, Colbert allegedly shot at them from the bedroom, narrowly missing them, according to police.

One of the officers, Carlos Estrada, a four-year member of the San Diego Police Department, returned fire. The officers, who had a service dog with them, then retreated and called for backup.

During the standoff, Colbert also allegedly fired multiple rounds at two SWAT officers, Runyon said. One of them, eight-year SDPD veteran Matthew Hone, shot back at the suspect.

Prior to surrendering, the uninjured defendant disposed of a revolver and a rifle, dropping them to a courtyard below, according to the prosecutor. A subsequent search of the residence turned up another rifle, and 17 shell casings were recovered inside the apartment, Runyon said.

The SWAT action prompted evacuations, school lockdowns, road closures and a suspension of flights at nearby Lindbergh Field.

During the standoff, officers cleared out some neighboring apartments and closed the street in front of the building along with stretches of Albatross, Curlew and Front streets between Laurel and West Ivy streets.

Officials at San Diego International Airport, which lies just across Interstate 5 from the Bankers Hill neighborhood, suspended arrivals until about 2:30 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Three nearby schools were placed on lockdown until the end of classes.

Colbert's former girlfriend was able to leave the apartment before the gunfire began and was not hurt, police said.

The defendant — who has a 2012 drug conviction — will be back in court Nov. 13. A Nov. 20 preliminary hearing date was also set.