Suspect in deputy’s shooting not found after long standoff

SAN DIEGO — A SWAT team surrounded a home near Mount Miguel High School Wednesday to try to flush out a man suspected of  wounding an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, but he was not found inside, according to police.

Around 3 p.m., San Diego police went to a house in the 1600 block of Tarleton Street in the La Presa neighborhood, where detectives believed the man may have been holed up inside, Lt. Ernesto Servin said. When officers entered the home, they did not find him.

Police identified the suspected gunman as 37-year-old Ray Koloseta Pitoau, a Samoan man, 5-foot-11, weighing 225 pounds. He has long black hair braided into two ponytails, brown eyes and a “SD” tattoo on his upper right chest.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call San Diego police at 619-531-2000 or Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 888-580-8477. Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

The deputy, identified by authorities as Jason Philpot, was walking with a group of people — including two off-duty Escondido police officers — when they were confronted by a man with a gun at 1:17 a.m. in the 500 block of Island Avenue, San Diego police officer John Buttle said. A struggle ensued, and the deputy was shot three times in the shoulder while a bystander was shot in the arm by an apparent stray bullet.

Police initially reported the victim was in a group of off-duty deputies, but San Diego police Lt. Ernesto Servin said the victim was the only off-duty deputy in the group and two others were off-duty Escondido police officers. Servin said law enforcement officers have discretion whether to carry a firearm when not on duty, but he did not know if any of the three law enforcement officers were armed.

The gunman’s weapon was likely a revolver and left no shell casings, Servin said.

When the assailant pulled the weapon on the group, the deputy “started wrestling the suspect for the gun,” Buttle said.

The deputy was struck three times in the shoulder, but was conscious and breathing when paramedics arrived, Servin said. He was taken to UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest with non-life threatening injuries.

A bystander walking in the street was also struck in the arm by an apparent stray bullet and drove himself to a hospital in Coronado, Servin said. He was later transported to UCSD Medical Center, also with a non-life threatening injury.