Suspect in Courtroom - Photo courtesy of Gorodenkoff on Shutterstock

A convicted felon accused of gunning down a 20-year-old man and wounding his female companion near downtown Hemet pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and attempted murder.

Roman Ralph Mendez, 21, of Castro Valley was arrested earlier this month following a Hemet Police Department investigation into the double shooting in October.

Along with the murder and attempted murder counts, Mendez is charged with being a felon in possession of a gun, as well as sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.

The defendant was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Singerton, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Feb. 2 at the Banning Justice Center and ordered that Mendez remain held in lieu of $2 million bail at the Benoit Detention Center in Indio.

According to Hemet police Lt. Michael Mouat, about 3 a.m. on Oct. 27, Mendez was involved in an unspecified confrontation with Jason Roy of Hemet in the 200 block of South Columbia Street, near Florida Avenue.

Mouat alleged that Mendez pulled a gun and shot both Roy and a woman with him, then fled the location.

A possible motive wasn’t disclosed.

Witnesses called 911, and patrol officers and paramedics arrived minutes later. Roy was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman, whose identity was not released, suffered a single gunshot wound and underwent surgery. She is recovering, according to the lieutenant.

Detectives identified Mendez as the alleged shooter soon afterward and requested assistance from the county Gang Impact Team, composed of law enforcement officers from throughout the region, to track down the defendant, according to Mouat.

He said the team located Mendez on Nov. 3 in Castro Valley and took him into custody without incident.

Mendez has felony convictions in another jurisdiction that weren’t listed in court records.

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