The arraignment of a man accused of shooting people in a Pasadena park was held over until next month.
Aaron Miguel Conell is scheduled to enter a plea on a murder count on Dec. 14 stemming from the fatal shooting of Mickey Cooper just after 4 a.m. on Nov. 18 in Washington Park.
Conell was originally scheduled to be arraigned Monday in a Pasadena courtroom but refused to leave his cell. He did appear in court on Wednesday.
Conell has also been charged with the attempted murder of a second man shot in the park last month. The charges include allegations that Conell personally used a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun during the commission of the crimes and that he personally inflicted great bodily injury on the victim in the Oct. 29 shooting.
He also faces one count of assault with a semi-automatic firearm for allegedly walking up to a car and pointing the gun at a man seated in the driver’s seat at a gas station in Pasadena just before 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 5, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The incidents left local residents worried about public safety in the area.
City officials held a community meeting on the incidents on Tuesday night.
At that meeting, Pasadena Police Chief Eugene Harris said he believes Conell will be in jail for “a very long time.”
“If you look at the statistics for 2022, and the end of 2023, this particular heinous crime accounts for almost 55% of any crimes that we have had in the park. That’s a big deal that we are here because of this one crime, and this one person who came out here to create havoc in this area,” Harris said.
Harris was joined by Mayor Victor Gordo, Councilmembers Jessica Rivas and Justin Jones, as well as Public Works Director Tony Olmos, and Parks Director Koko Panassian.
“What happened at the park is another reminder why we need to address the issue of substance abuse and mental health in our city,” Gordo said. “It shouldn’t surprise anyone that that was a part of what was happening in this park, and it happens in every part of our city.”
Gordo was joined by Councilmembers Jessica Rivas, and Justin Jones, as well as Public Works Director Tony Olmos, and Parks Director Koko Panassian.
“But,” Gordo said, “when we talk about these problems, we also need to have solutions.”
“This is a complex and complicated investigation, and it may get even more complex and complicated as we move forward.”
Police were alerted to the incidents via the ShotSpotter gunshot detection alert system. The alert may have saved the life of one of the victims, whom paramedics transported to Huntington Hospital.
Conell remains jailed in lieu of $4.25 million bail.
Police coordinated an arrest operation with members of the U.S. Marshals Service Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force and the department’s SWAT and K-9 units, according to Pasadena police Lt. Monica Cuellar.
Conell was initially booked at the Pasadena City Jail on suspicion of assault with a firearm, but detectives obtained additional evidence so he was additionally booked on suspicion of murder, Cuellar said.
Conell could face more than 50 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Rivas, who represents the area and lives just over a mile away, said that public safety is paramount.
“It’s important because on a fundamental level, the city has to ensure that we are safe in our neighborhoods and in our parks. This is personal to me,” Rivas said. “It hits home because it is home.”
Rivas added that while the suspect is “off the streets,’’ it is important not to just move on afterward, but to create answers.
“What are we going to do to make sure that Washington Park and all of our parks are as safe as they possibly can be?” she asked.
Councilmember Justin Jones has asked the City Manager to agendize a measure that would provide more funding for additional park safety specialists.
That item is expected to be heard before the City Council before the end of the year. There are just meetings left this year on Dec. 4 and Dec. 11.