A veteran San Diego police officer, killed in a shootout while serving a warrant, was known to fellow officers as "Good Cover."
Officer Chris Wilson, a 17-year veteran of the force, died Thursday morning from wounds suffered in a shootout with suspects holed up inside an apartment in the Skyline area.
“You always knew Officer Wilson had your back,” an emotional Mayor Jerry Sanders said at police headquarters Thursday. Sanders described the 50-year old officer as popular, funny, extremely bright and a consummate professional.
The mayor joined San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, City Councilmember Tony Young and Acting Assistant Chief Jim Collins as they discussed the events that unfolded Wednesday night during a probation compliance check.
Officer Wilson was fatally shot when San Diego police officers and U.S. Marshals were checking on a man wanted on an assault with a deadly weapon warrant.
The father of two was rushed to Scripps Mercy Hospital where hospital staff kept him alive long enough to allow his family to get there in time to say goodbye according to Chief Lansdowne.
“They kept him alive long enough because they knew the injury was catastrophic; long enough to allow us, myself and our staff, to get the family and bring them there and allowed us enough time for them to sit those last few minutes together,” Lansdowne said.
Wilson’s family in their grief visited with officers at the hospital and reinforced the officer’s dedication to the city and the department.
The officer was pronounced dead at 2:50 a.m.
Around 10:45 p.m. Wednesday, the team of law enforcement officers entered one of the apartments at 479 S. Meadowbrook Drive. A man barricaded himself in another room of the apartment, police said. As officers started to force entry into the bedroom, multiple shots were fired according to police. One of the shots struck Wilson.
"I just heard a bunch of gunshots," said Ryan Davis, a tenant whose unit is directly below the suspect's. "There was about nine cops they were basically at the doorway."
Davis said he saw the officer who had been shot being pulled from the apartment complex by other officers.
"I just seen them carrying him down the stairs," said Davis. "Complete shock at what was going on."
Another resident, identified as Luis, told The Associated Press he was in the apartment downstairs with his wife and two small children when he heard gunfire.
"I just hear like a big 'boom!', then they exchanged some words, then I heard 'Officer down! Officer down!,"' he said.
Luis said he rushed to his window and saw police carrying another officer with a blood-covered neck and face down the stairs.
He continued to hear gunshots and told his family to take cover. Moments later, an officer banged on the door and yelled: "Get out! Get out!," and the family fled as bullets cracked in the darkness, Luis said.
A police dog named Monty was also shot but was treated at a local veterinary hospital and is expected to survive. He will have surgery at Main Street Animal Hospital in Barrio Logan and return to duty at a later date.
Once officers were out of the apartment, they called in SWAT. Rubber bullets and chemical agents were deployed. Then, just before 7 a.m., SWAT team members entered the apartment used tear gas and received no response from the person inside.
When officers broke into a back bedroom they found two people dead inside, a man and a woman according to Acting Assistant Chief Jim Collins.
There are several guns surrounding the bodies Collins said early Thursday.
Three people, two men and one woman, have been taken into custody. Officers do not know if they have the person who shot the officer under arrest and have not recovered a weapon.
Homicide investigators will take over the investigation that could take all day Thursday and into Friday, Collins said.
Funeral arrangements will be made at a later date, according to a police union spokesperson.
“There are few things harder in life than the loss of a brother,” Brian R. Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association (SDPOA) said in a news release. “Officer Wilson displayed bravery, courage and a commitment to protecting San Diegans from a dangerous individual. His family and many friends are in our thoughts and prayers. His sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
The SDPOA has set up a trust fund for Officer Wilson's family. Checks can be made payable to the SDPOA Charity Fund. Write Officer Wilson in the memo line. Any donations (100%) will go directly to the family. Donations can be mailed to SDPOA, 8388 Vickers Street, San Diego, CA 92111.