Suspect in Molotov cocktail incidents pleads not guilty

By Kelly Wheeler

City News Service

A San Diego man accused of throwing nine firebombs at trucks, buildings and police patrol cars over a three-day period, causing at least $50,000 in damage, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 21 felony charges.

Edward Batties, 26, was arrested after a high-speed chase about 5:30 a.m. Sunday near the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 15 in Temecula, in Riverside County.

He faces charges of possession of an explosive with intent to injure, arson and burglary, Deputy District Attorney Rick Clabby said.

The prosecutor said Batties made firebombs out of glass containers and filled them with accelerant, such as gasoline, and allegedly threw them at three police substations, a middle school, a home and a vacant office building.

Batties allegedly began his rampage Friday night by tossing a Molotov cocktail into the parking lot of the San Diego Police Department's Mid-City Division station in City Heights.

San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Maurice Luque said the suspect also allegedly threw a firebomb at nearby Monroe Clark Middle School, but there was no damage.

Around 4 p.m. Saturday, a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck was set aflame on Mission Bay Drive. The vehicle was destroyed, but no one was hurt, Luque said.

The spree continued around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, when a firebomb was tossed over a fence and into the parking lot of the SDPD Eastern Division station on Aero Drive, he said.

Shortly afterward, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Serra Mesa house. While it broke a window, the device landed in a yard and burned itself out, causing minimal damage, Luque said.

About 5 a.m. Sunday, a San Diego police officer responding to a reported car burglary in Del Mar Heights spotted a vehicle matching the description of the one the suspect was driving and started to chase it.

Luque said the California Highway Patrol joined the pursuit, which ended shortly after Batties drove over a spike strip at the inspection station near Rainbow, at the Riverside County line.

Clabby said Batties reached speeds of 90 mph in the rain during the pursuit.

When caught, the defendant had a 5-gallon container of gas in his car, the prosecutor said.

Judge Gale Kaneshiro set Batties' bail at $160,000 and scheduled a bail review for tomorrow.

A readiness conference is set for Feb. 24 and a preliminary hearing for Feb. 26. Batties faces more than 20 years in prison if convicted, Clabby said.

   
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