Police Identify Suspect In Chula Vista Standoff
Authorities sought Friday to determine what prompted a South Bay man to ambush and gun down a neighbor outside their homes, prompting a daylong SWAT standoff that ended when the suspected killer fatally shot himself.
Michael Majerus, 42, allegedly fired 19 shots from an AR-15 assault rifle at 43-year-old Nicholas Reynolds as the victim was getting into his car at their apartment complex in the 100 block of E Street in Chula Vista shortly after 7:30 a.m. Thursday. Reynolds collapsed and died next to his vehicle.
The killing apparently stemmed from an ongoing dispute between the two men, Chula Vista police Capt. Lon Turner said. The captain said the exact nature of the feud was not immediately clear, but neighbors told news crews it involved bullying and ridicule that Majerus' family had suffered because they are dwarfs.
Following the shooting of Reynolds, Majerus went home and holed up there along with his 31-year-old wife and two children, ages 8 and 4, Turner said.
Special weapons and tactics officers took up positions around the apartment while crisis negotiators spoke to the suspect intermittently by phone, trying to get him to release his family and give himself up peaceably. Majerus refused, at times making comments about killing himself, according to police.
As the stalemate wore on into the afternoon, authorities evacuated the 39-unit complex, clearing out 41 adults and 15 children. Some of the displaced people were bused to nearby Norman Park Senior Center on F Street, where the American Red Cross provided food and drinks. Officers also diverted traffic in the area and urged the public to stay clear of the neighborhood until the volatile situation was resolved.
About 3:30 p.m., Majerus allowed officers to take his wife and children to safety but continued refusing to surrender.
Roughly an hour later, a gunshot sounded from inside the apartment. The SWAT team then sent in a camera-equipped robot to check on the suspect, finding him dead about 5:15 p.m. from a self-inflicted bullet wound to the head.
Investigators gathered evidence at and around the shooting scenes into the evening. Along with the rifle apparently used to kill Reynolds, two pistols were recovered from Majerus' residence, officials said.
The evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes about 9:30 p.m.
Authorities had been called to the complex on two prior occasions to deal with disturbances involving the bad blood between Majerus and Reynolds, Turner said. In both cases, officers determined that no crime had been committed and that no police report was warranted.