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SDPD Identifies Guard Killed At Homeless Shelter

Inside the new Alpha Project homeless shelter, Oct. 5, 2019.
Matt Hoffman
Inside the new Alpha Project homeless shelter, Oct. 5, 2019.

A security guard who was fatally shot at an East Village homeless shelter was identified Monday, and those who knew him gathered at the shelter in his memory.

Ernest Lee Buchanan, 44, of San Diego, was shot multiple times around 7:30 p.m. Saturday outside the Alpha Project tent shelter for the homeless at 1700 Imperial Ave., San Diego police Lt. Martha Sainz said.

The still-unidentified gunman approached the guard outside the shelter and shot him several times, then fled the scene, police said.


A shelter employee heard the shots and called police. At about the same time, officers in the area were flagged down by someone who also heard the shots. When officers arrived, they found Buchanan on the sidewalk suffering from gunshot wounds. He was taken by medics to a hospital, where he died about an hour later.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer reacted to the shooting death on Twitter on Sunday, writing, "Saddened by the fatal shooting of an Alpha Project employee on Imperial Avenue. Crisis counselors were onsite to support staff and the 100-plus men and women who use the nearby bridge shelter. An investigation is underway."

The Alpha Project, a 150-bed tented shelter, opened Nov. 5.

A vigil in memory of Buchanan is scheduled to be held at the shelter at 6 p.m.

Bob McElroy, president/CEO of the Alpha Project, told reporters Buchanan -- a father of six -- was returning to the shelter after taking a meal break when he was shot.


"What a loss for his family," McElroy told CBS8. "He was a great dad, and for us, he was a great mentor to our folks and a friend."

Anyone with information about the shooting was asked to call the Homicide Unit at 619-531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.

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