Sunday, August 7, 2011
SAN DIEGO A San Diego police officer died at a hospital after he was shot in the head in an apparent random attack, Chief William Lansdowne said Sunday.
Officer Jeremy Henwood, 36, a four-year veteran on the police force, died at 1:42 a.m. at Scripps Mercy Hospital, the chief said.
The alleged shooter, Dejon Marquee White, 23, left a suicide note in his apartment before he went to an El Cajon restaurant and shot a man in the face. That started a bloody rampage that ended when police shot and killed White as Henwood - shot at close range with a shotgun - was arriving at the hospital, police said.
An intensive search for an alleged second man believed to be inside the car was fruitless, and Lansdowne said White is believed to have acted alone.
"Today is a difficult day for all people who serve in San Diego's finest," said the chief, who called the shooting an "assassination."
Capt. Jim Collins said: "The series of events is believed to have started at an In-N-Out Burger on North Magnolia Avenue in the unincorporated area of El Cajon about 5:20 p.m (Saturday). In that incident, a male was shot in the face as he sat in his vehicle in the parking lot."
That man was identified by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department as Martin Hanna, and deputies said he is expected to recover.
The suspect fled the scene in a black Audi with temporary dealer plates.
At 5:25 p.m., an El Cajon police officer, who was unaware of the shooting at the fast food restaurant, saw a black Audi speeding west on Interstate 8 in El Cajon. The officer attempted to stop the vehicle for the traffic violation, but broke off when the Audi sped above 100 miles per hour and the driver was driving erratically.
About five minutes later, a possible link was made between the shooting and the speeding Audi and law enforcement agencies around the county were alerted to look for the vehicle, Collins said. The Audi was last seen heading south from Mission Valley on Interstate 15.
At 5:32 p.m., a woman used a police radio to report a San Diego police officer had been shot on University Avenue at 45th Street. Civilians gave first-aid to the officer until they were relieved by responding police.
According to witnesses, the Audi pulled up on the left side of the officer's vehicle and someone pointed a gun out of the passenger window and fired at Henwood.
At about 6 p.m., police found the Audi outside some apartments in the 4000 block of 48th Street. Collins said a police helicopter directed ground units to the 48th Street address as the suspect with the shotgun got back into the Audi.
Police blocked the street in an attempt to stop the car, but the suspect allegedly grabbed the shotgun and was fired upon by multiple officers.
A police officer shot and killed the suspect. After the shooting, the Audi rolled backward into a wrought iron fence. The man inside, later identified as White, was declared dead.
"A suicide note was found in the suspect's apartment, but there was no mention of what he would do," Collins said. "No motive is known at this time."
The chief said the fallen policeman "believed he was a protector and had a responsibility to help others. This department is judged by how we manage situations like this."
Henwood was a Marine reservist who had served three tours of duty overseas, the chief said.
"I know in my heart this organization operates as safely as we can," Lansdowne said. "These men and women will give their lives to protect your safety, an idea exemplified today."
His colleagues were stunned by Henwood's death.
"We are saddened by this senseless and cowardly act that has taken away a true hero," said Brian Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association. "Having recently returned from deployment in Afghanistan, Officer Henwood was continuing to serve the community just as he had served his country - with honor and respect. He will be remembered for these qualities."
Henwood was the second San Diego police officer to die within 10 months. On Oct. 28 in the Skyline district, Officer Chris Wilson, 50, was fatally shot in a probation raid.
The San Diego Police Officers Association has created a trust fund for Henwood's family. Donations can be mailed to: Officer Jeremy Henwood Family Trust, c/o San Diego Police Officers Association, 8388 Vickers St, San Diego, CA 92111. Any donation will go directly to the family, Marvel said.