Actor Johnny Ortiz, best known as the star of McFarland, USA and El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, has been charged with attempted murder. Ortiz was arrested back in May and is currently behind bars. Should Ortiz be found guilty, he could be facing life in prison.
Johnny Ortiz, age 24, was arrested with co-defendant Armando Miguel Navarro, 18, following an investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department. The two appeared in court recently in Los Angeles, California, facing felony murder charges. Ortiz has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The two are being held currently by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for this upcoming Monday. Ortiz's bail has been set by the judge at $1,120,000. The actor's family has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise funds to get him out of jail
While details of the shooting remain unclear, Johnny Ortiz is facing a premeditated murder charge. The criminal complaint states Ortiz and Armando Miguel Navarro attempted to kill a man named Brian Duke. Per the complaint, this was "for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in association with a criminal street gang with the specific intent to promote, further and assist in criminal conduct by gang members." Navarro is said to be the one who pulled the trigger, using a handgun. Navarro is being held on $2 million bail.
Per the California Penal Code, if found guilty, Johnny Ortiz could be facing 25 years to life in prison. Meanwhile, his family insists that he is not guilty. The GoFundMe is seeking to raise $100,000 for his bail and, as of this writing, has raised just a small fraction of that amount. His family alleged his innocence outlined some of the work Ortiz has done for his community on the page.
"Johnny is everything to our family. Johnny does everything to help the community and the Hispanic community especially. Johnny has contributed to many non-profit organizations and community organizations. He is in jail fighting for his case that he is innocent on. We want our beloved family member back with us."
Johnny Ortiz began acting at a young age, with his first official credit in 2001 for Ali, Michael Mann's Muhamad Ali biopic. In 2015, he starred alongside Kevin Costner in Disney's McFarland, USA, a biopic about a team of cross-country runners. Ortiz also played the role of Tony on ABC's American Crime. Some of his recent credits include Peppermint and Possession Diaries.
As of this writing, Johnny Ortiz's attorney has not responded publicly regarding the charges. It remains unclear what, precisely, the actor's alleged involvement in the crime was, since it was Navarro who is said to have pulled the trigger. Ortiz was initially arrested on May 25 following an investigation by local authorities and has been behind bars ever since. This news was previously reported by TMZ.