Watsonville attempted murder suspect pleads not guilty

Manuel Adrian Perez.

SANTA CRUZ — The Watsonville man suspected of shooting two people during a dispute at his residence Monday made his first court appearance Friday, where he pleaded not guilty.

Manuel Adrian Perez, 22, remains in Santa Cruz County Jail on attempted murder charges after Judge Rodney Stafford kept his bail at $375,000.

Perez is scheduled to return to court July 25 for his preliminary hearing.

He was assigned an attorney from the Santa Cruz County Public Defender’s Office. Outside court, attorney Athena Reis declined to comment.

Perez’s family also did not speak with reporters.

Around 7:10 p.m. police received a call of shots fired in a home on the 600 block of Rodriguez Street. Officers found three people, including a teenage girl, suffering from gunshot wounds.

Investigators say that Perez was upset with a 46-year-old man over an interaction the victim had with one of Perez’ family members earlier that day. 

Perez, the 46-year-old victim and the teen girl were injured when the gun went off during the ensuing struggle, police said.

The male victim and the girl suffered minor injuries.

Detectives recovered the handgun, which is registered to Perez, police said.

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