A second suspect in a violent crime spree that started with the shooting of an armored truck guard in Windsor and ended in Calistoga with more gunfire, claimed in a taped interview that his partner was the mastermind behind the botched heist.
Ivan Morales, 24, of Lakeport told Sonoma and Napa county sheriff’s investigators that his friend Sergey Gutsu, 24, of Antelope planned the robbery and gave him the high-powered ammunition for the AK-47 rifle Morales had planned to leave unloaded.
“My plan wasn’t to shoot the, ya know, shoot the guy. I was just gonna scare him,” Morales said in the recording.
The videotaped interview, conducted two days after the July 12 Windsor robbery outside a Chase Bank branch, was shown in Sonoma County Superior Court Monday, the second day of a preliminary hearing held to determine if there is enough evidence for trials against both men.
Prosecutors said Morales shot and wounded the Loomis truck guard outside the Windsor bank while Gutsu grabbed the bag of cash. The pair then fled to Calistoga in a getaway van where Gutsu shot at a Calistoga police officer and missed.
The officer rammed Gutsu with his patrol car and Morales ran away, but was found several hours later hiding in a dense thicket after a law enforcement search.
Both men have been charged with felony robbery, attempted murder for their suspected roles in both shootings and felony assault on a police officer using a firearm as well as enhancements for using guns while committing serious felony crimes.
Morales’ lawyer argued that he wasn’t responsible when Gutsu shot at the Calistoga police officer because Morales was unarmed and fled the scene.
Gutsu’s lawyer argued that Gutsu shouldn’t be charged with attempted murder of the guard because he didn’t fire his gun and there was “insufficient evidence showing specific intent of attempted murder.”
“The evidence is Mr. Gutsu didn’t shoot at anybody (at the bank), let alone Glenn,” Tiburon-based lawyer Jon Rankin said, referring to the guard, who was identified in court only by his first name.
Rankin also argued attempted murder didn’t apply to the shooting at the Calistoga police officer because it was not premeditated but instead was an “impulsive, rash act.”
Judge Dana Simonds said she needed to consider the defense attorneys’ arguments and continued the hearing to Wednesday afternoon.
The taped interviews revealed Gutsu had conducted surveillance for armored truck cash deliveries to the Windsor Chase Bank branch on two prior occasions before the robbery. Morales said Gutsu knew the truck would arrive just before 1 p.m.
Gutsu told investigators he chose the Windsor shopping center because there were two banks, increasing the likelihood an armored truck delivering cash would turn up, and “these are kinda like sleepy towns over here. Just rich and . . . white.”
Gutsu and Morales have also been linked to other violent crimes across the state, including a March 29 robbery of an armored truck guard in Grenada Hills. Gutsu is also a prime suspect in the June 2 killing of a San Dimas Quizno’s sandwich shop owner in Los Angeles County.
Gutsu’s own statements in recorded interviews with investigators suggest he’s been involved in a long string of crimes, including an Antelope carjacking the day before the Windsor robbery.
Answering a question from a sheriff’s detective about how many robberies he’s committed, Gutsu answered, the “exact number, 74 with this one.”
“You keep track that detailed?” Napa County Sheriff’s Detective Don Maiden said in the recording, played in court Friday.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s not that hard, you just add one,” Gutsu said.
You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jjpressdem.