Off-duty border agent shoots at suspected shoplifter

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. — An off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent opened fire at a South Bay strip mall Tuesday on a car occupied by an alleged shoplifter, after which the suspect and a cohort sped off and escaped into the surrounding neighborhood, authorities reported.

The events that led to the shooting began shortly after 11 a.m., when employees at a Rite Aid store in the 500 block of Telegraph Canyon Road in Chula Vista saw a man walk out of the business with merchandise — a tablet- style computer — that he had not purchased, according to police.

Two clerks followed the suspected thief into an adjacent parking lot, where he got into a large late-model sedan occupied by a second man, Lt. Phil Collum said. The federal officer, meanwhile, somehow became aware of what was going on and decided to intervene.

MomenScreen Shot 2013-11-12 at 8.13.52 PMts later, the lawman, who was not in uniform, pulled a pistol and fired at least two rounds at the dark-colored car, which then sped away to the west. Officers searched in vain for the sedan and the suspects by ground and aboard a police helicopter.

Investigators found no evidence that the gunfire had injured anyone, though they suspected that at least one bullet struck the vehicle, variously described as a Lincoln Continental or Town Car, or a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, the lieutenant said.

One witness said he saw a woman and child in the back seat of the vehicle ad the suspect got into the getaway car.

“He hopped into his car and the officer pointed a gun at him and told him to get out and then he put it in reverse and pulled up and went forward.  And that’s when I saw the shots fired,”  said Robert Taylor of Chula Vista.

Witnesses said the suspected shoplifter was a roughly 5-foot-4-inch man wearing dark pants and a white shirt.

The government agent, whose name was withheld, remained at the scene and was being questioned by detectives. His exact rationale for firing on the suspect remained under investigation in the late afternoon, according to Collum.

A spokesman for the Border Patrol declined to comment on the shooting, referring all questions to Chula Vista police.

9 comments

  • navydude1986

    We'll probably never hear anything else about the OFF DUTY BP officer, and why/what prompted him to fire a few rounds. No where in the story was the shoplifter armed, nor did they drive AT HIM in the vehicle. He'll get a slap on the wrist, and ordered to patrol the border. Oh that's what his job is anyway. #smh. Typical off-duty cop antics.

  • Angry citizen

    Not even an on duty cop would shoot without knowing if the suspect was armed. Wow…was the shoplifter even armed? The real psycho was just a trigger happy, overpaid, and off duty Deutschbag. I live in that area and have seen how cocky these bp agents are pulling up to establishments in a 4 wheeler and parking illegally. There job is so easy they get bored and this is what happens.

  • Ernesto

    Are you serious? so now it's okay for off-duty border patrol agents to fire at anybody who is under suspicion of a crime? As a tax paying citizen this is totally uncalled for and I don't agree with the agents reaction at all, this so called "heroic" border agent should be punished for opening fire inside a public parking lot where children and innocent civilians are present and to top it off all for a few stolen devices…. its ridiculous to take it to that extent over a petty theft, that border agent did very wrong, especially if the suspect was unarmed. He gave him no motive to fire off his gun, from the looks of it that was a personal choice. This agent accelerated himself, he put the lives of others at risk.

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