A SWAT situation ended with a suspect being fatally shot in San Diego’s Bay Terraces area on Friday afternoon.
San Diego Police Department Lt. Kevin Mayer said a search for a robbery suspect began around 11:35 a.m. at an Arco gas station located at 495 Meadowbrook. An armed man in his 40s entered the gas station and robbed it, firing one round from a sawed off rifle or shotgun into the ceiling in front of two female employees.
After the robbery, Lt. Mayer said the suspect fled the gas station in a 2005 Suzuki, which was stolen. He then crashed the stolen vehicle on Paradise Valley Road, near Parkwood, and then tried to set the vehicle on fire.
A message on social media from the fire department said a gas canister and Molotov cocktails were believed to be inside the vehicle, crude incendiary devices. It is unclear, at this point, if the suspect was planning to use those materials.
The suspect then fled that scene on foot, and went to the 7300 block of Woodridge Street, where an officer spotted the man going into a home in the area.
Officers set up a perimeter around the home.
Once inside the home, the suspect shot a resident in the foot, Lt. Mayer said. The injured resident came out of the home and told police they had been shot.
The suspect then fled that scene and made his way over to another house in the 7400 block of Gatewood Lane.
Lt. Mayer said the resident of that home told police the suspect had knocked on his/her door and said he needed clothes because “he had just robbed a place.” The resident gave the man a gray long-sleeve shirt.
Officers set up a perimeter around the area and searched for the robbery suspect, described as a Hispanic man in his 40s with a dark complexion, wearing a baseball cap, brown shirt and jeans. Police considered the man armed and dangerous.
The suspect managed to evade police once again and entered a third home in the area, in the 7400 block of Woodridge. This time, a woman was inside and the police say the suspect took her hostage for a short time.
Officers asked the man to surrender, but he refused. The hostage was able to escape the home by crawling out of a bathroom window, police said.
Minutes later, police say the suspect got into a vehicle and drove out of the garage of the home in reverse, at a high rate of speed toward officers standing in the street.
Fearing for their safety, police say five SDPD officers fired their duty weapons, striking the suspect. The man died at the scene.
The SDPD says the officers involved in the shooting of the suspect have been with the department for 12, 14, 28 and 30 years. The fifth officer has been with the National City PD for six months.
While all of this was happening, two schools in the area -- Daniel Boone Elementary and Bell Middle School -- were placed on lockdown. The lockdown was lifted at approximately 2:15 p.m., school officials confirmed.
The name of the suspect fatally shot by police has not yet been released. SWAT teams assisted in Friday’s search for the armed man, adding to the heavy law enforcement presence in Bay Terraces.
For Bay Terraces residents, the wild SWAT and police pursuit for the armed man in their neighborhood was frightening.
Resident Josie Carter said she was trying to get home around noon when she saw numerous police officer on her street with guns drawn.
“[I] just tried to walk to my house, but a police officer told me ‘Get back to your car,’” Carter recalled.
As the suspect ran through the neighborhood, resident Yoni Nieto said his neighbor actually confronted the man.
“The guy rushed into his house and my neighbor saw him and ran after him, to get him out of his house,” said Nieto. “Right when he was running after him, the guy just pulled out his gun and shot him his foot.”
Meanwhile, some residents were evacuated from the area and reported broken fences in their backyards.
“This guy just kicked the boards to escape. I think he was going from fence to fence,” said Carter.
The investigation is ongoing. The suspect's name has not yet been released.
A medical examiner's report reveals the suspect was 47-year-old National City resident.