SAN DIEGO — Police shot and killed a man who officers say was armed with a gun when they confronted him behind a City Heights fast food restaurant Friday night, and investigators are looking into his potential connection to two shootings that evening.
Police first headed to University and College avenues in El Cerrito around 9 p.m. after getting a call about gunfire nearby, according to San Diego Police Department. Officers found a man a few blocks away suffering from a gunshot wound, and witnesses described a suspected getaway car used in the attack, said SDPD Capt. Rich Freedman, with the department’s homicide unit.
A few minutes later, the police helicopter ABLE spotted a car matching the witnesses’ description, police said. The helicopter crew pointed patrol cars in the direction of that vehicle, and officers pulled the driver over a short time later at the intersection of El Cajon Boulevard and 54th Street, on the southeastern edge of City Heights.
“The vehicle yielded, but one of the passengers ran out of that vehicle and ran westbound on El Cajon Boulevard,” Freedman said. “The officers and ABLE both described the male as ‘running with a gun in his hand.'”
After running a couple blocks west, the man briefly headed north but was confronted by officers behind a Yoshinoya fast food restaurant off El Cajon Boulevard. That’s when at least one officer opened fire and hit the man. The exact sequence of events that led up to the deadly police shooting remains under review.
“It’s still early in the investigation, we haven’t had a chance to look at the body-worn camera footage or any of the surveillance footage, but according to some of the officers on scene, they described him pointing a weapon at them,” Freedman said late Friday.
In a later news release, SDPD Lt. Matt Dobbs wrote that the man “disregarded several commands to stop and drop the weapon” as he ran from officers, but did not make specific reference to the man pointing the gun at police.
The man was given medical attention at the scene and then taken to a hospital, but was pronounced dead a short time later. He was identified by investigators, who said the man was 22, but his name was not publicly released.
Police say the gun the man was carrying was recovered, along with two other handguns seized from the vehicle he ran from. Three men who remained in the car after they were pulled over were also taken into custody.
As investigators worked, they determined that the group may be connected to an additional shooting, which happened near Belmont Park in Mission Beach around 5 p.m. Friday, Dobbs wrote. Further details weren’t immediately available.
Police say the City Heights shooting victim was struck at least once in the leg and taken to the hospital, where he underwent surgery.
As authorities sort through the two shootings, the department’s homicide unit will also lead an investigation into the officers’ actions.
Once that investigation is complete, the shooting will be reviewed by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office to determine if the officers face any criminal liability, and by the city’s Internal Affairs Unit and Shooting Review Board to evaluate the officers’ tactics and determine if they violated any policies. The city’s Commision on Police Practices will also review the incident, and the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office have been notified, Dobbs said.
The two officers said to be involved in the shooting were not identified publicly, but Dobbs wrote that each has been with the department about one year in the Mid-City Division.
Anyone with information on any of the three shootings was asked to call the Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.