EL CAJON, Calif. — A SWAT standoff that began after a fire broke out at an East County home ended in a suspect dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said Friday.
The fire broke out around 9 a.m. at a house on Fourth Street near Madison Avenue, just north of Granite Hills High School, video from SkyFOX showed. Thick smoke was rising from the home as firefighters sprayed a steady stream of water across the property from a raised ladder.
Meanwhile, a SWAT team with an armored vehicle and several law enforcement SUVs set up outside the house, calling for someone to come out over a loudspeaker. An armed man, age 58, was believed to be the only person still on the property after a “domestic dispute,” a sheriff’s official told FOX 5 on scene.
The lot consists of multiple small buildings, a pool and several parked vehicles, including an RV and a trailer. At least two of the buildings were burning, video showed.
Around 11:15 a.m., the fire appeared to flare up, with flames and black smoke pouring from one of the smaller buildings on the property.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many other people were in the house at the time of the initial dispute, or how they were related to the suspect. A sheriff’s spokesperson referred to him as “the man of the house,” saying he had a gun before his family fled and that he threatened to take his own life.
As the original argument played out, a garage on the property caught fire, though it wasn’t clear how, San Diego Sheriff’s Lt. Amber Bagg told FOX 5 at the scene. She referred to the situation as “a mental health crisis” and said the department had “lots of resources” ready to assist the man, including a crisis response team and negotiators.
Bagg said authorities were “continually trying to make contact with him” but the man was not answering the phone.
Eventually, officials moved in and found the man dead, Bagg told FOX 5. Police believe he shot himself at some point after the family fled.
There were no reports of injuries to anyone else at the scene. Officials shut down Fourth Street in the immediate area for several hours.
Important note: If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, please remember help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also call a loved one, member of the clergy or 911.