SAN DIEGO — The victim in a deadly shooting that led to a standoff at an Encanto home earlier this week has been identified, as well as the San Diego police officers who traded gunfire with the suspect.
Rosario Morales, 74, was named as the deceased by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office. She was fatally shot on Monday, Aug. 28 by her son, Jesse Nelson.
Officers were dispatched to the scene around 8:45 p.m. after receiving reports of a shooting at a residence in the 500 block of Iona Drive near the intersection of Market Street and Akins Avenue.
Upon arrival, SDPD said the responding officers saw Morales and a dog down in the driveway in front of the home, each suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
As officers tried to approach the victim and the dog, Nelson began firing at the officers from inside the home. One officer returned fire at the suspect in response, SDPD said.
That officer has been identified by SDSO as Darwin Anderson, who has been employed with the Southeaster Division since 2021.
After the initial shooting with police, officers utilized a patrol vehicle to perform an emergency rescue operation of Morales in the driveaway so aid could be rendered. During the rescue, officers once again came under fire by the suspect inside the residence.
Once away from the driveway, life-saving measures were attempted on Morales, who was suffering from wounds to her upper body and leg. However, she was later pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel.
Additional units were requested by SDPD due to the continued gunfire from Nelson, the agency said. By 10 p.m., a heavy police presence surrounded the house, including officers from SDPD’s Special Weapons and Tactics Unit (SWAT) and a helicopter.
Law enforcement attempted to get the suspect to surrender, but he reportedly refused.
Minutes later, around 10:10 p.m., the suspect then appeared to set fire in the home. FOX 5 crews at the scene Monday night reported hearing gunshots erupt right before the flames became visible.
Nearly an hour after the fire was started, Nelson was shot by a SWAT officer, subsequently ending the standoff. He was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead around 11 p.m.
Matthew Steinbach, an 11-year veteran of the Western Division and the SWAT unit, has been identified by SDSO as the second officer involved in the shooting.
San Diego Fire-Rescue was able to extinguish the house fire by 11 p.m. It is unknown how much of the home was impacted. Multiple firearms were recovered from the residence, however, including a rifle, a shotgun and a handgun.
While little is known about the homicide that initiated the standoff, SDPD said Nelson appeared to be the victim’s son. For unknown reasons, he shot and killed his mother, as well as two dogs. It was not disclosed where the second dog was found.
The suspect’s motivation for the shooting, however, remains unknown.
In a conversation with FOX 5, the brother of Nelson said he had spent Monday night playing pool and drinking beers with him at Gilly’s, a bar in North Park. The two had driven home separately, with Nelson’s brother coming home to find his mother and the dog in the driveaway. Nelson then shot at him as well, his brother said.
Per the Countywide Memorandum of Understanding, the SDSO Homicide Unit was called to the scene to conduct an investigation into the shooting involving the SDPD officer.
When deputies conclude their investigation, it will be reviewed by the San Diego County District Attorney’s office to determine if the officers bear any criminal liability for their actions. It will also be reviewed by the Commission on Police Practices.
SDPD will conduct a separate administrative investigation into the officer’s discharge of their weapon, the department said.
According to SDSO, the federal Department of Justice was also notified of the incident.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to call the Homicide Unit at 619-531-2293 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.