CHULA VISTA, Calif. — A man who apparently shot and killed a neighbor at a South Bay apartment complex Thursday before taking his own life may have been reacting to bullying he and his family suffered for being little people, neighbors told FOX 5.
The 42-year-old shooting suspect, identified by police only as Michael, was found dead in his apartment Thursday afternoon after a daylong standoff with Chula Vista police. His wife and two kids were seen running away from a South Bay apartment complex Thursday after being holed up inside a unit with Michael for over seven hours, police said.
The man’s wife of one year, identified only as 31-year-old Laura, and two children under the age of 10, were escorted out of the apartment around 3:40 p.m.
The standoff began after at least three shots were fired, possibly from a high-powered rifle, at 160 E Street around 7:40 a.m., according to Chula Vista police. The victim was fatally shot in a carport in a parking lot near the apartment building, police said.
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Police surrounded the apartment and communicated with the suspect, Turner said in a 1 p.m. news conference. Investigators said they were using all methods to get him to surrender safely.
“We understand there are two sides to every story. Michael please pick up the phone so we can talk about how we are going to resolve this situation,” Turner said during the news conference, in an attempt to address the suspect directly. “This is very important for the safety of everyone involved. We want this to come to a peaceful resolution.”
At least 41 adults and 15 children were evacuated from the apartment complex and taken to the Norman Park Senior Center at 270 F Street. A team from Red Cross was assisting the evacuees. Students at Rosebank Elementary School in Chula Vista were released on a “modified dismissal” plan, according to school officials.
After gunshots were heard around 5 p.m., a robot was sent into the apartment to investigate. A SWAT team found Michael dead inside.
Neighbors told FOX 5 Mike’s daughter was often the victim of bullying because she, Mike and Laura were little people. Neighbors said they believe Mike was defending his daughter.
Neighbor Oskar Vargas said Mike and the deceased neighbor had a history of animosity. Vargas said a girl who lived with the victim bullied Mike’s daughter for being a little person, which created bad blood between the neighbors.