San Diego police shot and critically wounded a man suspected of chasing his girlfriend with a handgun across a shopping mall parking lot before ducking into a crowded movie theater in Carmel Mountain Ranch.
The incident happened just after 2:20 p.m. Saturday. No moviegoers were injured in the officer-involved shooting in the Reading Cinemas theater on Carmel Mountain Road.
SDPD officials say they originally responded to a call of domestic violence taking place in the parking lot across the street from the theater.
Witnesses told police they had seen the suspect – now identified as 20-year-old Escondido resident Tom Billodeaux – armed with a gun.
Officers soon learned the suspect had entered the multi-screen movie theater and began to search individual theaters.
Billodeaux was spotted sitting inside a theater, acting as if he were a patron officers said.
Officials said Billodeaux was given verbal commands to determine if he was armed. At first, the suspect complied and raised his empty hands, but then he allegedly quickly lowered them into his lap.
Billodeaux then allegedly raise a handgun and turned it toward the officer.
Fearing for his safety and the safety of others, the officer drew his service weapon and shot Billodeaux in the arm and chest officials told NBC 7 San Diego.
He was then apprehended and taken into custody.
Other patrons inside the theater at the time were able to evacuate safely.
SDPD Capt. Terry McManus said the safety of patrons was the top priority for officers at the scene.
“Everybody who was in the theater, including staff were moved to an area of safety, that included getting many of them out. It also included getting them to places we determined to be safe,” said McManus.
Billodeaux was waiting in the parking lot of the courtyard shopping center when his 19-year-old girlfriend took a break from her restaurant job according to authorities.
Detectives say Billodeaux was armed and physically attacked the victim. She was able to get away from him, uninjured, with the help of co-workers who witnessed the fight.
Police say Billodeaux was taken to a local hospital for treatment and will be booked into jail once he’s released.
Billodeaux's neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said that despite the incident the Escondido man (pictured right) should be given the benefit of the doubt.
"No one knows what's going on you know. It's like people like to assume things, so no one knows what happened," the neighbor said.
The woman describes Billodeaux as a good guy who was friends with her brother and liked to skateboard in the neighborhood.
According to SDPD officials, the officer involved in this shooting has been with the department for a year and a half. His name was not released.
No one else was hurt in the incident which had the potential to put many people in danger.
This was the second shooting at a San Diego County movie theater in as many days.
Authorities say a concession worker suffered an arm injury when a shot fired outside a San Marcos movie theater went through the lobby window and struck her.