A detective shot in a violent gun battle with a suspect at a Lakeside apartment complex Tuesday is slowly recovering after sustaining severe injuries, according to family members.
The gun fire lasted about 15 minutes, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. Both Perez and Johnson had arrived at Witczak's apartment to confront him about alleged pornographic images on his cell phone of his girlfriend's young daughters.
While fire was exchanged, both Perez and Johnson fell to the ground. They were pulled to safety by a SWAT officer who moved them out of the line of fire.
During the standoff, Perez was struck in the stomach and shoulder at close range by high-powered 308-caliber bullets.
It took nine hours of surgery to save his life.
Family told NBC 7 San Diego Perez was near death Tuesday night, but has since been doing much better. He’s currently recovering from his gunshot wounds at Sharp Memorial Hospital
On Wednesday, Perez's friends said the deputy was able to give his loved ones hope by gesturing a “thumbs up” to them at the hospital.
Perez’s brother-in-law Sean Sayre, who’s an El Cajon police officer, said the family was extremely worried about Perez’s health after learning of his involvement in the Lakeside shooting.
“Obviously we were very concerned there. We’re just happy it turned out the way it has, given the circumstances,” he said.
Sayre said it’s difficult to see such a devoted deputy and father go through something like this.
“[He’s] a dedicated family guy [who] works very hard, works a lot of overtime, not only to handle his cases and do the right thing with the work he's doing, but also to support his family."
Sayre said he’s proud to call Perez his brother-in-law, not only because he’s married to Perez’s sister, but because Perez has had a remarkable 18-year career as a sheriff’s deputy.
Perez’s career has included capturing the Santana High School shooter in 2001, and giving justice to hundreds of young victims as part of the child abuse unit.
“To see that dedication day in and day out, it’s an honor for me to be a part of that,” added Sayre.
Besides his work protecting and serving the City of San Diego, Perez's close friends said he's also an avid San Diego Chargers fan.
The deputy attended the football game against the Falcons at Qualcomm Stadium this past Sunday. Perez also coached youth football and played in a law enforcement football league.
Sayre said his brother-in-law’s recovery process will be long and painful, but the family is hopeful.
Sayre said Perez’s wife, Gracie, can no longer work full-time because she’s busy caring for her wounded husband. Sayre said Gracie is worried about their family’s financial future.
The couple’s two adult children are currently in college, one at Grossmont College and one at Dartmouth.
Sayre said the family is getting help from the Sheriff’s Department and the union, but they desperately need more.
"San Diego County has been a great community. Any support that could be given would be greatly appreciated,” said Sayre.
To donate toward Perez’s recovery, visit the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of San Diego County Facebook page by clicking here.