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Public Safety

Investigation Continues In Deadly Officer-Involved Shooting In Escondido

Escondido police at the scene of a fatal police-involved shooting in downtown Escondido, April 21, 2021.
10 News
Escondido police at the scene of a fatal police-involved shooting in downtown Escondido, April 21, 2021.

The name of the man shot by Escondido police officers on Wednesday morning has yet to be released.

Escondido police officers responded to a call of a man hitting cars with a metal object near the intersection of 2nd Ave and Broadway. In a critical incident debrief, Escondido Police Chief, Ed Varso provided more details on the incident.

Investigation Continues In Deadly Officer-Involved Shooting In Escondido
Listen to this story by Tania Thorne.

“The male immediately advanced on the officer while holding the same metal tool in a threatening manner. The officer gave multiple commands to drop the tool as well as several use-of-force warnings. The male continued to advance on the officer who was backing away and he was ultimately shot,” Varso said.

The suspect was transferred to a local hospital and later pronounced dead.

Varso said they believe he was homeless and someone the police department had encountered before. In the debrief, Varso said the suspect had been booked into county jail 188 times since 2002 and was involved to more than 20 service calls this year.

He added that the psychiatric response team had tried to place the suspect in mental health support systems before.

Based on the description from police, Greg Anglea, the CEO of Interfaith Services, said he believes the man was someone receiving basic needs services from his organization.

“We don’t know the individual for certain, the name has not been released yet but based off the description we can be very certain that the individual was a part of receiving some basic needs services here,” said Anglea.

He said breakfast at the Interfaith Escondido cafeteria Thursday morning was somber.

“People who are living on the streets right now who were here this morning receiving basic needs and services understood that they lost a member of their community yesterday and they’re scared," said Anglea. "They’re scared about what's going to happen to them, and their friends and others.”

Being in the frontlines of supportive services to the homeless community in North County, Anglea says this incident highlights the need for more resources.

“If we had more mental health resources to help people before they’re in crisis, we can much more effectively connect people to help, before crisis occurs,” said Anglea.

Police Chief Varso said portions of the bodycam footage will be released as the investigation continues.

Escondido mayor Paul McNamara said he’s glad the investigation will also be looked at by external parties to help determine progress needed in police training and homeless outreach.

“To get to the right answer, I think we need to make sure we don't conflate things and that we look at this in a very objective fashion so that we can really discover failures, if we have any, in the process, in our training, in addressing our homeless and addressing those with mental health issues,” said McNamara.