Craig Lee, Redlands High School standout recruited by UCLA, charged with attempted murder

 In blog, Crime News: Los Angeles Daily News

Craig Lee, Redlands High School standout recruited by UCLA, charged with attempted murder

by Richard K. De Atley

Former UCLA running back and Redlands High School standout Craig Lee has been charged with attempted murder in a botched 2016 robbery of a Jurupa Valley medical marijuana dispensary that left two men wounded by gunfire, authorities said.

The would-be robbers fled the scene after the shooting, investigators said.

Lee and John Carlton Ross, both 23, are each charged with attempted robbery along with the attempted murder charge. The case filed against them also alleges they were armed during the incident.

They are due to enter pleas in Riverside County Superior Court on Thursday, July 25.

Lee was arrested in Los Angeles July 18 and along with Ross remained in custody Tuesday in lieu of posting bond on $1 million bail.

An attorney for Lee had not yet been selected Tuesday afternoon from a panel of attorneys for defendants who cannot be represented by the Public Defender’s Office because of a conflict of interest.  Ross has told an investigator he was prepared to deny any involvement with the crime.

Lee was a 2013 graduate of Redlands High School and was one of the nation’s top running back recruits after rushing for more than 3,355 yards and 37 touchdowns. He committed to UCLA early in the recruiting process.

Lee was cut from the Bruins in 2015 after failing to qualify academically. He never played a game for UCLA football.

A declaration in support of Lee’s arrest, filed late last month, outlined the invasion of the dispensary on July 13, 2016 by three men. The event was caught on surveillance video.

The men were armed with a rifle and a handgun and shot a store employee, wounding him in the right shoulder. A security guard returned fire and wounded one of the would-be robbers.

A man investigators identified as Lee had entered the dispensary behind the first two men “and fled the scene as soon as the shooting started,” the declaration said.

The man wounded by the security guard was later dropped off at Loma Linda University Medical Center. He told a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s investigator he had been shot in Loma Linda by an unknown assailant. But a bullet recovered from his clothing was later matched to the dispensary security guard’s handgun, the declaration said.

The wounded man who fled the store claimed to investigators in November 2018 that Lee had forced him at gunpoint to take part in the robbery, the declaration said.

A man who said he was a good friend of Lee’s said Lee called him the morning of the robbery  and “frantically” asked him to pick him in the Riverside area.  Lee told the friend his job in the robbery “was to grab drugs and money and run,” the declaration said.

That friend also said another participant in the attempted robbery met with him and Lee the same morning, and apologized to Lee  “for the way things went down.”

Of the three men who rushed into the store, only Lee was charged.

Ross was described as a friend of the security guard who was already in the store when the three entered, and “assisted in this crime.” Ross left after the shootings, before law enforcement arrived,  the declaration said.

An investigator said Ross was prepared to deny any involvement in the crime, but Ross admitted that the day of the attempted robbery he retrieved a rifle from the ground that was used by one of the men, and put the weapon on the back seat of that man’s car.

That was the car that fled the scene with the wounded man, who was later dropped off at Loma Linda. Ross said he placed the rifle in the car “out of fear,” the declaration said.

All credit goes to Richard K. De Atley
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