Suspect in 2000 triple homicide in Normal Heights arrested in Mexico, brought back to U.S.
A man suspected of killing three people including a sleeping toddler in a Normal Heights apartment more than 22 years ago was found in Mexico and returned to the United States, San Diego police said Thursday.
Sergio Lopez Contreras, 44, was booked into San Diego Central Jail on Wednesday, and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in San Diego Superior Court.
The victims were Michael Plummer, 20, his girlfriend Adah Pearson, 18, and his nephew Julio Rangel, 21-months-old. Police said the toddler’s parents were inside the apartment but were not hurt in the spray of bullets.
San Diego police Lt. Jud Campbell said Thursday that investigators suspect the killings were drug-related.
Court records indicate prosecutors filed charges against Lopez Contreras in 2007, accusing him of three counts of murder with special-circumstance allegations of using a rifle in the killings and lying in wait.
The shooting happened just after 11 p.m. Sept. 4, 2000 in a complex on Bancroft Street just north of Monroe Avenue.
According to an an article published by The San Diego Union-Tribune in 2000, police Lt. Ray Sigwalt said Plummer had gone next door to the apartment shortly before the shootings to buy a small amount of unspecified drugs from a man named “Sergio.”
Sigwalt said Plummer brought the drugs back to his ground-floor apartment without paying. The dealer followed, demanding his money. The dealer then opened fire from the outside door, Sigwalt said.
“About 14 rounds went flying through the living room,” Sigwalt said in the news story.
Plummer died at the scene. Pearson and Rangel were taken to separate hospitals, where they died.
At the time, police said they believed the suspected shooter fled to Tijuana, where he had relatives.
Campbell said Lopez Contreras was later arrested in Mexico on unrelated charges, but did not say when he was arrested.
On Wednesday, with cooperation of U.S. Marshals and La Fiscalía General de la República, Lopez Contreras was brought across the U.S. border, transferred into San Diego police custody and booked into jail.