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Longtime deputy fatally shot gun-wielding man during confrontation

CAMPO, Calif. – Authorities Thursday publicly identified a longtime sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot an apparently suicidal gun-wielding man during a confrontation in a rural neighborhood near Lake Morena County Park.

Deputy Richard Phillips, who has worked for the sheriff’s department for about 23 years, and other Campo-based deputies were sent to a home in the 2500 block of Gladiola Drive late Sunday morning after the resident, 66-year-old Bruce Dawley, called 911 to report he was suicidal and armed with a gun, according to sheriff’s officials.

Deputies heard at least one gunshot from inside the home shortly before Dawley emerged from the front door holding a pistol. He then allegedly fired at deputies, prompting Phillips to shoot back with a shotgun.

Initially there was some question as to whether Dawley’s fatal wound had been self-inflicted or resulted from the deputy’s return fire. The county Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the latter was the case, sheriff’s officials said.