Gabriel Garcia, Alex Alvarado

San Bernardino Police Officer Gabriel Garcia, 31, left, was badly injured in an early Friday gun battle with Alex Alvarado, 38, right, officials say. Garcia remains in critical condition. Alvarado was killed at the scene. (San Bernardino Police Department / August 22, 2014)

Three men were charged Tuesday with attempted murder of a peace officer and possession of an assault rifle in connection with a shooting that left a San Bernardino police officer critically wounded and a suspect dead.

Jonathan Contreras, 20; Orlando Cruz, 24; and Gonzalo Medina, 22, all of San Bernardino, face two counts of attempted murder of a peace officer and one count of possession of an assault weapon, prosecutors said. An assault rifle with high-capacity magazines and a revolver were recovered at the scene, officials said. 

If convicted as charged, the three men could face life in prison, prosecutors said.

“Let me be very clear about the message we are sending today,” San Bernardino County Dist. Atty. Mike Ramos said in a statement. “If you aid and abet or conspire with another person to shoot a police officer, or any other person, you will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Even if you don’t pull the trigger.” 

A fourth man, Alex Alvarado, 38, was shot by police during a prolonged firefight. He died at a hospital.

The shooting occurred shortly before 2 a.m. Friday when Officer Gabriel Garcia and his training partner approached a group of six people in the 1900 block of Garner Avenue. One person immediately opened fire, wounding Garcia. Garcia’s rookie partner, who graduated from the academy two months earlier, fired back and killed Alvarado, authorities said.

Garcia remains hospitalized in a medically induced coma and is responding well to treatment, according to police officials.

The three suspects are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, prosecutors said. Citing an ongoing investigation, prosecutors did not release any additional information. 

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