UPDATE: Jose Compre, 26, pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge and other criminal counts in connection with the death of Officer Dan Bessant. If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.
OCEANSIDE, Calif. - Oceanside police Thursday announced the arrest of a third man in connection with the 2006 death of Officer Dan Bessant.
Oceanside police officials announced that "new information was brought to light which launched this current investigation," and on Thursday morning, officers arrested 26-year-old Jose Compre.
On Dec. 21, 2006, Bessant was shot and killed after being called to aid a fellow officer during a traffic stop at Arthur Ave. and Gold Dr. in Oceanside.
Documented gang members Meki Gaono (who was 17 years old at the time) and Penifoti Taeotui (16 at the time) were arrested and later convicted of killing Bessant. Authorities said Gaono fired a scope-equipped rifle at Bessant from about 385 feet away, striking him with a bullet that went into his left armpit, just below his protective vest.
Taeotui was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Gaono's conviction resulted in a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, but 61 years were added to his term.
Compre, who was 16 years old at the time of the shooting, was also arrested with Gaono and Taeofui, but charges against him were dismissed in 2008 due to insufficient evidence.
In a 2007 court filing, a prosecutor stated that the defendants had targeted Bessant because he was serving as a neighborhood-policing officer in charge of instituting tougher enforcement in an area rife with gang violence.
Bessant, who was born and raised in Oceanside, was 25 years old and left behind a wife and young son. He had been with the department for three years.
In 2013, what was the Pacific Street Bridge was renamed the "Oceanside Police Officer Dan Bessant Memorial Bridge."
Compre is set to be arraigned in Vista on Friday.