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Man pleads not guilty to firing rifle at San Diego police helicopter in La Jolla

David Lowe, 47, is accused of firing at least two shots at a San Diego Police Department helicopter in La Jolla on March 13. He pleaded not guilty May 1.
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A man who witnesses said wore body armor and fired a rifle at a San Diego Police Department helicopter in La Jolla in March pleaded not guilty May 1.

David Lowe, 47, is accused of firing at least two shots at the helicopter, which was being used in response to reports of an armed man who witnesses said was banging on their door at about 10:15 p.m. March 13 in the 6300 block of Electric Avenue.

Deputy District Attorney Philippa Cunningham said residents called police because the man was pointing a rifle at the home and trying to break down the door. The residents reported the man was wearing body armor and pounding on his chest, Cunningham said.

Officers responded and the man fired on the helicopter, according to police Lt. Andra Brown. The chopper was not struck by the gunfire and no one was injured, Brown said.

Lowe was later arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Police found firearms, ammunition, gas masks and bulletproof vests in his possession, Cunningham said.

Defense attorney Rafael Acosta disputed the prosecution’s account, saying Lowe fired a round into the air, nowhere near the helicopter. Acosta said Lowe never pointed the rifle at the residents inside the home and asserted that Lowe suffers from an anxiety disorder that was exacerbated by being laid off from his job recently.

The prosecution requested that Lowe be held without bail, but Acosta argued he should be released on his own recognizance. Acosta emphasized that Lowe has no previous criminal history, was cooperative with officers upon being arrested and police have seized all his weapons.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser agreed that Lowe was entitled to bail but said the “extraordinarily serious” allegations warranted setting bail at $1 million. Lowe is due back in court July 9 for a preliminary hearing.

La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report.