SAN DIEGO – The names of a San Diego police gang unit officer who was killed and his colleague who was wounded were released Friday.
“As you are now all aware, one of our officers was murdered last night while he was protecting our community,” SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman said.
Officer Jonathan “JD” De Guzman, a 16-year police veteran, died after being shot multiple times shortly before 11 p.m., Zimmerman said. His partner, Wade Irwin, a 9-year veteran, is in serious condition after surgery and is expected to survive, Zimmerman added.
De Guzman, 43, had a wife and two young children. Zimmerman called his death “gut-wrenching.”
“I personally worked with him when I was a lieutenant at Mid-City Division,” she said. “I know him, and this is gut-wrenching. He cared. He came to work every single day just wanting to make a positive difference in the lives of our community. And last night he lost his life trying to make a positive difference and trying to protect our community.”
Zimmerman called Irwin “so dedicated” and a man who “cares so deeply for his family, cares so deeply for our community and (who) went out there every single night, wanting to make a positive difference in the lives of our community members.”
Zimmerman said the two officers stopped an individual — either on foot or in a vehicle — around 11 p.m. Thursday in the 3700 block of Acacia Grove Way. Shortly after the lawmen made the stop, they requested emergency backup. Responding officers found both with gunshot wounds to their upper bodies, Zimmerman said.
What prompted the gunfire was still unclear. Zimmerman said it was still unknown if the officers were victims of an ambush. The officers were wearing body cameras, she said.
Both officers were wearing body cameras when they came under fire and police have recovered the video from those cameras, Zimmerman said.
A suspect, who was also wounded while being taken into custody in a ravine area off South 38th Street, was at a hospital in critical condition, the chief said. She declined to identify him, saying only that he was an “Hispanic male adult.”
It remained unclear whether the two officers were trying to make a pedestrian stop of a vehicle stop, but investigators have not evidence that a vehicle was involved, Zimmerman said.
The chief lamented recent increases in violence against police officers across the country.
“That’s just a tragic statistic of police officers that go out every single day that wear a badge with pride that we all took an oath to protect and serve all of our communities,” she said. “And to have this happen to our police officers — we have seen this happen way too many times just in these last few weeks across our great country. It is tragic for everyone.”
Support from local officials, organizations and law enforcement agencies quickly poured in.
“Last night we lost one of San Diego’s finest,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who was out of town at the time of the shooting and was on his way back to town this morning. “We grieve for our fallen officer and stand with his family during this very difficult time. We also pray for the second officer shot last night as he recovers from surgery.”
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said the shooting had “sent a shock wave through law enforcement and the wider San Diego community.”
“This senseless act once again highlights the dangers our peace officers face on a daily basis as they work to ensure and protect the public’s safety,” Dumanis said. “(My) Crimes Against Peace Officers Unit is working closely with SDPD to investigate and review this case so those responsible for this cowardly act will be held accountable.”
Sheriff Bill Gore said his agency’s personnel “grieve with the men and women of the San Diego Police Department.”
“On behalf of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family of Officer Jonathan De Guzman,” he said. “We also want to wish Officer Wade Irwin a full recovery. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues at the San Diego Police Department and all who work in law enforcement.”
Chula Vista police said in a statement that their officers’ “hearts are heavy after the tragic loss” of one officer and were “praying for the speedy recovery” of the second.
“Our condolences go out to San Diego Police Officers, and to their families and loved ones. The entire law enforcement community stands with you this morning in solidarity,” the CVPD statement said.
Gov. Jerry Brown announced that flags at the state Capitol will be flown at half-staff in De Guzman’s honor.
“Each day officers risk their lives to keep our communities safe and Officer De Guzman’s brave service and sacrifice will not be forgotten. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Officer De Guzman’s family and friends, members of the San Diego Police Department and all law enforcement mourning the loss of this dedicated public servant.”