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Suspected shuttle bus thief pleads not guilty

Posted at 8:45 AM, Apr 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-25 19:22:52-04

SAN DIEGO -  A man accused of commandeering an employee shuttle bus at San Diego International Airport and driving off with eight employees inside pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of kidnapping, auto theft and reckless driving.

Norberto Eaton, 46, was ordered held on $500,000 bail.

Eaton allegedly stole the employee shuttle bus from the front of Terminal 2 West at the airport last Tuesday about 3:45 p.m. Harbor Police said the shuttle bus driver pulled up to the curb pick-up area and stepped off the bus to pass a piece of equipment to another driver.

Eaton, who was a passenger on the bus, then took the driver's seat and drove off, along with eight employees on board, authorities allege. The alleged auto thief drove on to North Harbor Drive at a high rate of speed, ignoring traffic signals, police said.

When Eaton was forced to stop in heavy traffic near Hawthorn Street, two airport employees approached him, and he jumped off the bus, according to police.

A San Diego City Parking Enforcement officer and one of the passengers from the shuttle were able to detain the suspect, who is from Arizona and was not an employee at the airport, according to police.

None of the employees on the stolen shuttle bus were injured.

A readiness conference was set for May 4 and a preliminary hearing for May 6.