Lakeside Shooting Suspect Had Criminal Past: Uncle

Suspect has at least one felony that was drug related and wasn’t supposed to own a weapon, according to uncle

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    The manager at a Santee auto shop describes former employee Dan Witczak as unreliable and someone who never showed up for work. Dustin LaFountaine of AMP Auto talks with NBC 7's Danya Bacchus. (Published Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012)

    A Lakeside man involved in a gun battle with San Diego County sheriff's deputies had a past felony and could not own a weapon according to a relative.

    Daniel Robert Witczak, 30, shot a high-powered rifle at deputies inside his Lakeside apartment around 12:15 p.m. Tuesday officials said. 

    Detective Ali Perez and Sgt. Craig Johnson had arrived at the unit inside the Maplewood Apartments to confront Witczak about photos discovered on the suspect's cell phone.

    A girlfriend accuses Witczak of taking pornographic images of her elementary-school-aged daughters with the intent to sell them for profit.

    Both deputies were injured in the shooting. Perez was listed in critical condition in the ICU at Sharp Memorial Hospital Wednesday morning. Johnson underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to the arm and was expected to survive officials said.  Get update on injured deputies

    Witczak was also wounded in the gunfight and was hospitalized at Scripps Mercy Hospital. There has been no update on his condition.

    Watch Live: Deputies to update investigation at 10:30 a.m.

    The suspect’s uncle, Albert Witczak, said he and his wife are in disbelief about their nephew’s involvement.

    The Wisconsin couple has been staying up to date on the deputies’ conditions through online news reports.

    “These people put their lives on the line every minute of the day. And for something like this to happen, especially with my nephew, it’s totally unacceptable,” said Albert Witczak. “It’s just devastating.”

    Dan Witczak moved to San Diego with a friend to get out of Oshkosh, Wisconsin the uncle said.

    Dan has at least one felony in his criminal past that was drug related and he wasn’t supposed to have a weapon his uncle told NBC 7 San Diego.

    He recalls a troubled past for his nephew that included medication for a mental disorder but said he had never heard of any accusations of sexual misconduct.

    When asked what he would say to his nephew if given the chance, Albert said, “’What were you thinking, dude?’”

    NBC 7 San Diego has learned that Witczak was detained in August for domestic violence, but did not appear in court.

    The couple had been dating a year Witczak's girlfriend told NBC 7 San Diego. He had been employed as a mechanic, but has been out of work for a week and a half.

    Former employer Dustin LaFountaine of Amp Auto in Santee said Witczak was let go after a week of work because he was "unreliable."

    "Seeing that he had a couple of kids that what we wanted to let him make a couple of bucks but he came in and didn't show us what he was capable of doing, so then again I saw we had to let him go," he said.

    Witczak's girlfriend said the suspect kept three guns in their apartment and says he struggled with substance abuse.

    Check back for updates on this developing story.

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