The man accused of firing multiple shots at a San Diego police officer sitting in his patrol vehicle, killing him will stand trial on charges of murder, a San Diego judge decided Wednesday.
Officer Jonathan 'J.D.' De Guzman and his partner Wade Irwin were shot after approaching a suspected gang member in July 2016.
Jesse Michael Gomez, 58, will be tried on charges of murder and attempted murder, with a special circumstance allegation of murder of a police officer.
During the preliminary hearing, images of dozens of evidence markers lining the streets of Shelltown were shown for the first time.
They include pictures of a blood trail that led to Gomez, who was laying unresponsive in a ravine behind homes on Acacia Grove Way.
Prosecutors say Gomez shot De Guzman point-blank in the car multiple times before De Guzman ever raised his service weapon.
"The memory of Officer Jonathan “JD” De Guzman weighs heavy in the hearts and minds of the men and women of the San Diego Police Department," Chief David Nisleit said in a released from the SDPD after the judge's decision was announced. "We will never forget the years of service he provided and the efforts he made to keep all San Diegans safe.
"When Officer De Guzman was murdered in July 2016, members of the Department worked tirelessly to identify the person responsible for his death. A thorough investigation was conducted by the Department’s Homicide Unit and Jesse Gomez was identified as the suspect."
"We would like to thank San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan and her prosecutorial team for presenting the evidence in court at Jesse Gomez’s preliminary hearing this week. The Department appreciates the court’s diligence in listening to testimony, examining the evidence and concluding there was enough evidence to proceed with a trial. The Department fully supports the De Guzman family and the community members of San Diego in seeking justice for Officer De Guzman."
De Guzman was struck in the right torso; the bullet punctured both lungs, severed his spine and punctured his pulmonary artery. He suffered four additional bullet wounds.
Irwin said he was hospitalized for 23-days and was off duty for 8-months. He said he still suffers from injuries that include a collapsed lung, a paralyzed right diaphragm, a partially-paralyzed vocal cord, nerve damage, and numbness in his right earlobe and right side of his face.
De Guzman, 43, was a 16-year veteran of the SDPD. He left behind a wife, a son and a daughter.