San Diego Police Officer Killed, Another Wounded In Shooting
Friday, July 29, 2016
San Diego Police Officer Killed, Another Wounded In Shooting
Andrew Bowen, reporter, KPBS News
UPDATE: 4:30 p.m., July 29, 2016
The man arrested on suspicion of shooting two San Diego police officers in Southcrest on Thursday night, killing one of them, has been identified as Jesse Michael Gomez, 52. Gomez remains hospitalized in critical condition with a gunshot wound he suffered in the confrontation.
A second possible suspect in the case, 41-year-old Marcus Antonio Cassani, was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant Friday afternoon in a neighborhood about a mile from the shooting scene.
UPDATE: 2:30 p.m., July 29, 2016
SWAT officers stormed into a Shelltown home after an hours-long standoff in search of a second possible suspect.
The standoff in the 4000 block of Epsilon Street — where police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said a "potential" suspect was believed to be holed up — came to an end shortly after 1 p.m. Friday, with officers storming into the home and finding nobody inside.
Video footage from the scene showed police taking a person into custody nearby, but it was not immediately clear if it was the suspect police were seeking. During the roughly six-hour standoff, police employed flash-bang devices in an effort to coax the suspect from the home and used a bullhorn to try to communicate with the person, referring to him as "Marcos."
A short time after the standoff ended, police began surrounding another home a few blocks away.
A San Diego police gang unit officer was killed and a second was wounded late Thursday night in a shooting in the southeastern San Diego neighborhood of Southcrest, authorities said Friday.
Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said that very shortly after the two officers announced they were making a stop, they requested other officers to provide "emergency cover." Responding officers found both with gunshot wounds to their upper bodies.
It is unclear if the stop was a vehicle or pedestrian stop, Zimmerman said.
What prompted the gunfire was still unclear. Zimmerman said it was still unknown if the officers were victims of an ambush. She said the officers were wearing body cameras and there is video evidence of the shootings.
The injured officer is still unconscious, so investigators haven't been able to speak with him, the chief said.
The mortally wounded officer, Jonathan "J.D." De Guzman, 43, suffered multiple bullet wounds and was taken in another officer's vehicle to Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest, where he later died despite the "heroic efforts" by police and doctors to save his life, Zimmerman said.
"Last night, he lost his life trying to make a positive difference and protect our community," Zimmerman said of De Guzman at a morning news conference. She called it a "senseless murder."
The chief said she and other top officers notified his wife, two children and extended family members of his death.
"This is one of the most difficult and heart-wrenching situations for police officers to go through," Zimmerman said.
De Guzman was a 16-year veteran of the department. In 2003, he survived a stabbing while on the job, according to a news report in the North County Times.
Wade Irwin, the second officer, was taken by ambulance to another local hospital, underwent surgery for at least one gunshot wound to his upper body and is expected to survive, police said. His wife was with him at the hospital. They have a 19-month-old child.
Zimmerman said Irwin, 32, was "resting comfortably,'' but has "a little bit of a long haul'' until he recovers. Irwin has been with the police department for nine years.
She described both officers as "heroic — out there protecting our city day and night."
"Our gang suppression team officers put their lives on the line every day to make sure that our citizens are safe in San Diego," she said.
A suspect, who is hospitalized in critical condition, was taken into custody in a ravine area on South 38th Street near Acacia Grove Way, Zimmerman said. It was not immediately clear if the shooter acted alone.
Some area residents were told to shelter in place as officers continued to search the area for a possible second suspect. A SWAT standoff was underway at a house at 41st and Epsilon streets in San Diego's Shelltown neighborhood.
Chief Zimmerman lamented the uptick in violence against police officers across the country in recent weeks.
"That's just a tragic statistic of police officers that go out every single day that wear a badge with pride that we all took an oath to protect and serve all of our communities," she said. "And to have this happen to our police officers, we have seen this happen way too many times just in these last few weeks across our great country. It is tragic for everyone."
Jerry Sanders, San Diego’s former mayor and police chief, told KUSI Friday morning that he knows the Southcrest neighborhood, where the shooting occurred, well. He was once the captain for that area, he said.
“It’s a difficult neighborhood at times,” Sanders said. Gang members live there, but many good people also call it their home, he said.
“I’m sure the neighborhood is grieving just as much as the police officers are,” Sanders said. When he was captain of the Southeastern Division, he said, he received more support from the community than he did in any other neighborhood where he worked as an officer.
He said the officers were “just off doing the the job they do every day,” when they were shot after pulling over a car. “Traffic stops go bad all the time.”
A peace vigil was held Friday night at South 35th Street and Boston Avenue, near where the officers were shot. A funeral wreath was placed there. The vigil was planned by the National Action Network and the Rev. Shane Harris.
"We condemn anyone who uses vengeance as a tool to kill innocent police or innocent citizens. We cannot afford to fight this battle with vengeance we must fight this battle with strategy, clear thinking, prayer, unity, then action," Harris said.
The civil-rights group had previously planned to hold a protest Friday morning calling for the resignation of San Diego City Councilwoman Myrtle Cole after she made controversial remarks about police and race relations. They postponed that protest after the shootings overnight.
The shooting in Southcrest comes less than two weeks after a man with ties to San Diego fatally ambushed officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, killing three and wounding three others. Officers in Dallas were also targeted by a gunman earlier this month.
The last San Diego police officer killed while on the job was 36-year-old San Diego police Officer Jeremy Henwood. The four-year police department veteran and Marine reservist had just bought a meal for a child and was fatally shot by a suicidal man who pulled up alongside his cruiser on University Avenue at 45th Street on Aug. 6, 2011. He died in a hospital early the next day.
Henwood was the second San Diego police officer killed on the job within 10 months. On Oct. 28, 2010, Officer Chris Wilson, 50, was shot to death during a probation raid at a Skyline-area apartment complex.
KPBS multimedia producer Brooke Ruth contributed to this report.
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