SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The four Marines accused of stopping a gondola ride at the San Diego Zoo made their first appearances in court on Tuesday.
Each Marine is facing felony vandalism charges and up to three years in prison if found guilty for allegedly causing $400 in damages, according to the San Diego District Attorney's Office.
According to the 3rd MAW, the four Marines, are training with Miramar's 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. They are originally part of VMFA-211 out of MCAS Yuma, Arizona, but were training in San Diego.
The DA's office said Sgt. Jacob Dean Bauer, Cpl. Brandon Gregory Cook, Lance Cpl. Brayden Stone Posey, and Lance Cpl. Marquette Alexander Williams caused chaos two weeks ago aboard the San Diego Zoo's Skyfari Gondola ride.
The zoo told ABC10News that they had to enact safety precautions and stop the ride, causing 100 passengers to be stuck for over an hour.
"They were on the gondola ride, there was some shaking, and a lot of damage happened to the gondola ride at the San Diego Zoo," Abrey Zora with the District Attorney's Office said.
The DA's office said that the Marines caused $400 in damage to the ride, which is the minimum needed to face felony charges.
Tuesday, the DA's office also asked for a stay away order from the San Diego Zoo, which the judge granted.
"Obviously the case will still be evaluated but right now based on the facts that we have, and the reports that we have," explains Zora. "We thought that felony vandalism was the way to go."
A spokesperson with the 3rd MAW tells ABC10News that the four marines could also be charged in military courts.
They released the following statement:
"The 3rd MAW is committed to being good neighbors to the San Diego community. Marines found in violation of any law or directive will be held appropriately accountable in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice."
Each Marine posted bond at $20,000.
The district attorney's office asked if they could be allowed to return to Arizona, as long as they appear for their future court dates which the judge granted.
The Marines are scheduled to join their felony disposition hearing on March 22 and their preliminary exam on April 5 via Microsoft Teams.