Bodycam video released in shooting of man who advanced on deputies with pellet gun: Sheriff’s


Bodycam footage released by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department shows a deputy-involved shooting that wounded a suspect in Vista. (San Diego County Sheriff’s Department)

WARNING: The videos in this story contain graphic images that viewers may find disturbing.

VISTA, Calif. — Body-worn camera footage released Tuesday by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department shows the moments when a deputy opened fire on a man armed with a pellet gun and knives after he led them on a pursuit that ended in the backyard of a North County home, authorities said.

The incident happened about 12:30 p.m. Sept. 28 when a man called authorities to report the man, who since was identified as 20-year-old Omar Rojas, had approached him outside a 7-Eleven store with a knife and then slashed two of his tires near North Santa Fe Avenue and Melrose Drive, authorities said. The caller suspected Rojas of being on drugs.

As sheriff’s Deputy Justin Williams responded to the scene and pulled up to an empty parking lot, authorities say Rojas ran, prompting Williams to chase him. The foot pursuit led the deputy to a home at 1566 Kiva Lane. Authorities say the home did not belong to Rojas, nor did he know the owners of the residence.

Additional deputies from the sheriff’s Vista Station responded and surrounded the home to search for Rojas. Footage shows an unnamed deputy climbing onto his patrol car, locating Rojas in the backyard of the home.

“You’re OK. We’re all going to be OK. You just need to drop the knife,” the deputy says to Rojas. “I know you can do it, dude. I made eye contact with you. I know you’re a good dude. You’re just having a bad day. That’s OK. Bro, it’s OK to have a bad day.”

The deputy standing atop his patrol car can be heard in the video attempting to deescalate the situation.

“It’s going to be OK, as long as you make it OK,” he said. “Dude, the decision is yours.”

Moments later, video from the department’s ASTREA helicopter shows Rojas walk from the backyard and into the house with what appears to be a rifle. When authorities spot the weapon, the deputy on his patrol car can be heard yelling, “He’s got a gun.”

Footage released Tuesday shows the deputy jump off the vehicle and onto the ground to shield himself behind a fence.

Deputies in the front of the home are contacted about the armed suspect and begin to move behind cars for protection. After a couple of minutes, the Sheriff’s ASTREA helicopter video shows Rojas emerge from the side of the house.

In video taken from Williams’ bodycam, the deputy is heard warning Rojas to drop the gun. But authorities say Rojas ignored the command and continued to move forward, leading Williams to open fire on him. The sheriff’s department claims the confrontation cannot be seen on any of the deputies’ cameras due to vehicles obstructing their views.

After the shooting, the ASTREA helicopter located Rojas on the side of the house next to two knives and what appeared to be a rifle. He received medical aid and was taken to an area hospital where he was treated for his injuries, according to authorities.

He was jailed at the Vista Detention Facility two days later. He’s currently booked at San Diego Central Jail on charges of assault with a deadly weapon upon a peace officer, resisting arrest and felony vandalism.

The sheriff’s department later determined the gun to be a pellet rifle while two knives also were found.

Williams was hired by the department in October 2020 and is assigned to the Vista Sheriff’s Station. He was placed on administrative assignment per a departmental policy in shootings involving deputies. He since has returned to full duty, sheriff’s officials said.

The investigation remains ongoing. The department’s video can be viewed in its entirety below.

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