Man faces 11 attempted murder charges after 15-minute shooting spree


An ex-convict transient was behind bars Monday, facing a slew of charges, for allegedly leading a chase through Escondido in a stolen car, firing at police and bystanders and sending bullets into a squad car and through an officer’s epaulet.

Eric Anthony Pomatto, 25, faces 11 counts of attempted murder along with allegations of firing at an aircraft - a sheriff’s helicopter - and evading arrest in connection with the 15-minute rolling rampage last week.

He is due to appear in court for arraignment on Tuesday afternoon.

“This guy was on a mission,” police Lt. Craig Carter said over the weekend. “He was not firing blindly. He waited at corners to shoot at officers as they made the turn. Not one officer fired back. They showed a lot of restraint.”

Despite the assailant’s allegedly homicidal intent, no injuries were reported, though four police vehicles were damaged by gunfire.

About 6 p.m. Friday, an officer responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle on South Rose Street ran a computer check on the Honda Accord that Pomatto was in and discovered that it had been stolen in Chula Vista, Carter said. Moments later, a man inside the car opened fire on the cruiser, then drove off.

As police chased the suspect along Midway Drive, near Bear Valley Parkway, he allegedly shot at them again and fired through the vehicle’s open sunroof at a law enforcement helicopter aiding in the chase. The assailant then headed south on Bear Valley Parkway, firing a pistol and a shotgun at his pursuers.

At Craigmore Avenue, he shot through the windshield of a service-dog handler’s cruiser. The bullet barely missed the officer, tearing through the his ornamental shoulder piece and lodging in the back seat near his dog, according to Carter. Other bullets hit the front bumper and tires, disabling the patrol car.

The chase, meanwhile, continued to the south as eight officers struggled to keep the Honda in sight while trying to stay out of the gunman’s firing range, the lieutenant said.

On Boyle Avenue, the fleeing driver shot at an officer who was attempting to place tire-flattening spike strips on the roadway. The shot missed the intended victim but hit a passing car.

Carter said the driver continued to fire until he reached Westfield North County mall. There, he halted outside an On the Border restaurant, got out of the car and lay on the pavement.

“I don’t know why he stopped,” Carter said. “He obviously knew we were there.”

The sheriff’s helicopter crew landed in a parking lot at the shopping center to assess whether any gunfire had struck the aircraft. Carter said it apparently had not been hit.

The motive for the shooting spree was unclear, according to Carter.

“We’re trying to figure out what led this to happen,” he said.