“2 Pops and a Big Crash”

A shootout erupted during an armed robbery attempt at a North Park coin shop Friday, leaving one of the two suspects mortally wounded, while the other escaped with his accomplice's handgun, according to San Diego police.

Lt. Terry McManus told reporters that the exchange of gunfire began at about 9:15 a.m. inside the Old Coin Shop at 2425 El Cajon Blvd., where two employees had buzzed the suspects through a security door.

McManus said the wounded suspect, 25-year-old Michael Anthony Watkins, was hit in the left leg and buttocks, collapsed in the parking lot outside the shop, and died at 9:54 a.m. at Scripps Mercy Hospital.

He said investigators believe the suspects arrived in a car found nearby in a parking lot.

Neither of the shop's employees was injured, and it was not immediately clear whether both were armed and fired shots at the suspects.

Witnesses told police that the suspect who escaped fled through an alley to Arizona Street heading south.

Officers later found a handgun and articles of clothing in an alley behind the 4200 Block of Hamilton Avenue.

McManus said detectives are trying to determine whether the incident was recorded by a surveillance video system.

About three hours later, a distraught woman ran toward police at the cordoned-off crme scene sobbing and screaming "That's my baby!  That's my baby!"

Relatives and friends joined her and demanded that officers, who kept them at bay, confirm the name of the man who was killed.
They shouted at reporters and news photographers not to get closer, and eventually retreated from the yellow tape to gather in front of a nearby business.

Eric Diaz was inside a Denny’s across the street having breakfast when he heard the commotion. 

“I went into the restroom and before I came out I heard like two pops and a big crash,” Diaz said.  “It sounded like a blast, it sounded like glass or something like that.”

Moments later, Diaz got another surprise.

“As I was washing my hands some officers came in and they started really looking at me, searching the restroom,” he said.

Diaz went outside and saw a man lying face down on the pavement.

“His eyes were rolled back; he was really stiff, no movement at all. It looked like it was a lost situation.” 

Diaz also saw another man running to a nearby alley. The wounded suspect was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital but later died, police said.  The second suspect remains at large.

Diaz said it saddens him that crimes like this seem to be happening more often.

“Nowadays in these times, with the economy and things being rough, more people, I guess, chose to force themselves to other extremes,” he said.

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