Car theft suspect killed by cop identified

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police gunSAN DIEGO — Authorities released the name Monday of a 21-year-old man who was fatally shot by police while allegedly accelerating a stolen car directly at them on a residential street near Encanto Elementary School.

Jonathan F. Vasquez of San Diego died at the scene of the Saturday pre-dawn shooting, which also wounded one of his two young companions in the vehicle, according to police.

The events that led to the gunfire began about 1:15 a.m., when a patrol officer spotted a sedan heading east at high speed on Imperial Avenue, near 54th Street, SDPD homicide Lt. Ernie Herbert said.

Vasquez refused to yield to the officer’s lights and sires, and two other patrol personnel soon arrived in the area and joined in the pursuit, the lieutenant said.

After fleeing for about a mile and a half, Vasquez pulled into a large dirt lot on the north side of the 6500 block of Brooklyn Avenue, according to Herbert.

“The officers stopped their cars and got out, expecting the suspect to flee on foot,” Herbert said. “The driver of the car suddenly made a U-turn and drove directly toward the officers, who were outside their cars giving verbal commands for (him) to stop.”

At that point, the officers opened fire on the approaching vehicle, wounding Vasquez and a 19-year-old woman riding in the front passenger seat. Vasquez died at the scene. Medics took the teenager to a hospital for treatment of a gunshot to one of her shoulders.

An 18-year-old man who had been riding in the back seat of the stolen car was unharmed, the lieutenant said.

The names of the involved officers, who have been with the San Diego Police Department for between four and six years, have not been released.

At the time of the pursuit and shooting, the vehicle that Vasquez was driving had yet to be reported stolen, Herbert said.