Nearly four years after an owner of the Quiznos in San Dimas was fatally shot during a botched robbery, the man accused of pulling the trigger has been charged with capital murder, officials announced Friday.
Sergey S. Gutsu, 27, of Sacramento County, pleaded not guilty Thursday to one count of murder with a special circumstance allegation that the crime was committed during a robbery, thereby making him eligible for the death penalty, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a written statement.
He also faces one count of second-degree robbery and two counts of assault with a semi-automatic firearm.
Prosecutors said on the afternoon of June 2, 2015, Gutsu fatally shot Quiznos owner Pravin Patel, 62, during a robbery at the sandwich shop, located in the 1000 block of West Arrow Highway. He also allegedly threatened two customers who happened to be inside the Quiznos.
At the time of the shooting, Sgt. Rebecca Rodriguez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told KTLA after handing over money, Patel was shot outside his store.
“The employee gave over the money and he followed the suspect outside of the location,” Rodriguez said. “A struggle ensued in front of the store and the suspect shot the victim.”
Patel owned the Quiznos location in San Dimas with his wife, who he worked alongside
A $20,000 reward was originally offered to help identify and find Gutsu, because security cameras were not working when the fatal shooting took place and investigators were struggling.
Prosecutors said investigators eventually identified Gutsu while he was in custody in Sonoma County for a separate criminal case.
Gutsu, along with co-defendant Ivan Morales, 26, of Lakeport was convicted in January of last year of premeditated attempted murder of an armored car guard, robbery of an armored car guard, premeditated attempted murder of a police officer and driving a stolen vehicle, according to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.
The men carried out an armored truck robbery on July 12, 2016, in Windsor, officials said.
“Morales and Gutsu drove up in a Suzuki SUV that had been carjacked a few days earlier in Sacramento,” prosecutors said in a written statement. “Morales got out of the Suzuki with an AK-47 style assault rifle and shot Glenn multiple times. Gutsu then grabbed the bag of money and the defendants fled the scene.”
The men then fired shots at police during a pursuit through Calistoga a short time later, officials said. Gutsu was apprehended after a police officer struck him with a patrol car. Morales ran off but was found in the area following a three-hour manhunt.
Gutsu has since been sentenced to51 years and 4 months to life in state prison for the crimes, officials said. Morales was sentenced to 38 years to life in prison.
Gutsu was scheduled to return to court on July 12 for a preliminary hearing in the San Dimas shooting case. Prosecutors have yet to decide whether they will seek the death penalty in the case, or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
He was being held without bail.