SAN DIEGO -- A man accused of gunning down a San Diego police officer and wounding his partner with a gunshot to the neck was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on charges that could have him facing the death penalty.
Jesse Michael Gomez, 58, is charged with murder and attempted murder, with a special circumstance allegation of murder of a police officer. He remains jailed without bail and is due back in court July 10 for arraignment.
Officer Jonathan "J.D." DeGuzman and fellow gang-unit Officer Wade Irwin were shot about 11 p.m. July 28, 2016, in the 3700 block of Acacia Grove Way. DeGuzman, a 16-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department, was found in the driver's seat of his patrol car and was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital.
Irwin testified Monday that as he and DeGuzman were patrolling the area, they saw two men split up and start walking along the north and south sidewalks of Acacia Grove Way.
Irwin said he believed the man on the south side -- whom he later learned was Gomez -- was someone else he had previously arrested. DeGuzman stopped the car and Irwin got out of the passenger side, leaving the door open, he said.
Irwin then asked Gomez, "Hey, do you live in the area?" and Gomez "almost immediately" shot him, the officer testified. Irwin said Gomez then approached the open passenger door of the patrol car and fired into the vehicle, where DeGuzman was sitting.
Irwin said that after he was shot, he fell into the side of the patrol car and was sitting up near the rear tire. He said he had "a lot of blood" in his throat and it was hard to breathe.
"I believed (Gomez) was going to execute me if he saw I was still alive," Irwin testified.
He said that after Gomez shot his partner, he drew his gun and fired on the shooter, who was running eastbound.
Irwin testified that he was taken to UC San Diego Medical Center for treatment of a collapsed lung, paralysis to his right diaphragm and vocal cords, facial numbness and nerve damage, which left him hospitalized for 23 days.
While in the hospital, he was shown photographic lineups that included Gomez and the man he originally believed Gomez to be. He testified that he identified Gomez as the shooter and the other man was not at the scene or involved in the shooting.
Gomez was taken into custody in a ravine off South 38th Street, a short distance from the scene, and was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to his upper body.
The San Diego Police Department issued a statement Wednesday thanking prosecutors for their work on the case.
"The memory of Officer Jonathan "J.D." DeGuzman weighs heavy in the hearts and minds of the men and women of the San Diego Police Department. We will never forget the years of service he provided and the efforts he made to keep all San Diegans safe, according to the statement. "We would like to thank San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan and her prosecutorial team for presenting the evidence in court at Jesse Gomez's preliminary hearing this week. The department appreciates the court's diligence in listening to testimony, examining the evidence and concluding there was enough evidence to proceed with a trial."