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SDPD Releases Video Of Fatal May City Heights Police Shooting

Still from a body-worn camera of a fatal police shooting in City Heights on M...

Credit: San Diego Police Department

Above: Still from a body-worn camera of a fatal police shooting in City Heights on May 29, 2020.

The San Diego Police Department on Monday released video footage of the fatal shooting by three officers of a City Heights resident who allegedly pointed a pistol at them last spring after gunning down another man for unknown reasons.

Ronnie Kong, 32, died at the scene of the May 29 police shooting in the 3800 block of Euclid Avenue.

The events that led to the officers' use of lethal force, images of which were captured by their uniform-worn video cameras, began about 3:30 p.m., when Kong allegedly left his apartment, climbed over a fence to an adjacent residential complex to the south and fatally shot 62-year-old Juan Gudino Lopez, then returned to his residence.

After responding patrol personnel carried Lopez to a safe place, medics took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Other officers, meanwhile, surrounded Kong's apartment "and began gathering resources to deal with a possibly barricaded murder suspect," Lt. Matt Dobbs said.

"As the incident developed, it became clear the resources available to the patrol officers to safely deal with the situation had been exceeded," the lieutenant said. "The assistance of (a) SWAT team was requested."

While the special weapons and tactics personnel were arriving and beginning to take up positions at the complex, Kong emerged from his apartment.

"The suspect was given directions to surrender, but he refused to cooperate," Dobbs said. "The suspect walked halfway down the stairs towards the officers' positions and challenged them to come get him before retreating back into his apartment."

Kong remained holed up in the residence until about 5:45 p.m., when he walked outside once more and began approaching police, carrying a handgun and a knife, Dobbs said

"The suspect again refused to cooperate with the directions being given by the officers," the lieutenant said. "When the suspect had descended halfway down the stairs, he extended a pistol in the direction of the officers."

Three of the personnel — Officers Andrew Campbell, Christopher Luth and Tony Maraschiello — opened fire, mortally wounding Kong.

Homicide detectives investigating the case subsequently learned that Kong's mother had contacted police earlier in the week to report that her son had threatened her with a handgun and fired off several rounds in their apartment.

Officers were in the process of preparing an arrest warrant and a gun- violence restraining order for Kong when the fatal shooting occurred, police said.

"The suspect's mother told investigators her son wanted to be involved in a shooting with the police and to commit `suicide by cop,"' according to Dobbs.

The motive for the slaying of Lopez was unknown.

"The victim was a longtime handyman at the neighboring property, so (he and Kong) were not complete strangers," Dobbs said. "We have no idea what led to the shooting."

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