Ramona church burglary suspects deny charges

EL CAJON - Two men accused of stealing cash, checks and sacramental wine from a Ramona church pleaded not guilty Thursday to burglary charges.

Christopher Szumski, 34, and Brandon Tye, 19, were arrested Tuesday in a traffic stop on Interstate 8 near Main Street in El Cajon, according to San Diego County sheriff's Lt. Hank Turner.

During interviews with detectives, Szumski and Tye allegedly admitted breaking into St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Ramona April 14 and ransacking it. Among the losses were safes, cash, checks and sacramental wine, Turner said.

The suspects also allegedly confessed to a residential burglary in San Marcos.

Stolen property was found when officers searched the vehicle the two were in when they were stopped, according to Turner.

Szumski and Tye are charged with two counts each of burglary at the church and one of residential burglary in connection with the San Marcos burglary.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Evan Kirvin set bail at $200,000 for Szumski, who faces 35 years to life in prison if convicted. Tye, who faces seven years and four months behind bars, was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

A readiness conference was scheduled for May 2 at the El Cajon Courthouse.

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