Gaslamp Quarter

‘Bam, Bam': Witnesses Describe Deadly Gunfire in Downtown San Diego

One person was killed and four others were hurt when a suspect opened fire on J Street and then Fifth and Island avenues in downtown San Diego

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

What to Know

  • On April 22 just after 10:30 p.m., downtown San Diego resident Travis Sarreshteh, 32, shot and killed a man on J Street, in front of the Pendry San Diego Hotel, where the victim was working as a valet.
  • Sarreshteh then allegedly walked up one block, to Fifth and Island avenues and shot at a group of four other men; these victims were wounded but survived.
  • Sarreshteh was arrested by San Diego police and no one else was hurt; an SDPD officer deployed his taser on the suspect.

On a Thursday night in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, many people heard the gunfire in the streets as a suspect shot and killed a man who was working as a valet at the Pendry hotel, walked up a block, and opened fire on four others. Here’s what witnesses remember hearing and feeling.

'Bam, Bam'

San Diego resident Hector Manjarez works in the Gaslamp Quarter. He was taking his break in an alley just after 10:30 p.m. Thursday when, suddenly, gunshots filled the air.

“I heard three shots go off – ‘bam, bam’ – right off the bat,” he explained. “Then I heard some cars spinning and all kinds of people running away.”

Manjarez said he waited a few seconds until the sounds had stopped.

One person was killed and four were injured when a gunman opened fire in the Gaslamp Quarter. NBC 7’s Amber Frias has the latest.

Then, he stepped out of the alley and onto the street to see what had happened. Manjarez said he could see a man, across the street, lying on the ground in front of the Pendry San Diego hotel.

He said a group of witnesses – possible security guards – helped move the victim; it seemed like they were trying to protect him until police officers arrived.

Manjarez said he’s never seen anything like this in his life.

“Not in San Diego; not in this part,” Manjarez said. “I’ve never seen it, actually.”

Not in San Diego; not in this part.

Hector Manjarez, witness

Ernie Gonzales lives in downtown San Diego. He was watching TV at home Thursday night when he heard some popping sounds coming from outside.

“Like four or five – but not in succession – like two, and then two, if what it sounded like, or three,” Gonzales recalled.

At first, he thought it may have been fireworks going off; he said he’s used to hearing fireworks in downtown San Diego.

Within moments, though, he realized it wasn’t fireworks he was hearing.

NBC 7's Dana Griffin has the latest from the scene.

“This was so much louder; so much louder and so close,” Gonzales said. “I looked out the window on the second floor, and I don’t see anything. And I think, ‘Well, it must not be real,’ because I don’t hear any alarms, I don’t hear any police cars or anything like that.”

This was so much louder; so much louder and so close.

Ernie Gonzales, Downtown San Diego resident

About five minutes later, Gonzales said he heard sirens, police cars and fire trucks, “all over the place.”

“It’s terrible, man. It usually doesn’t happen. This place is very festive,” he added.

'He Didn't Make it To My Show'

A musician told NBC 7 he drove down to San Diego from Los Angeles to play his first show in 13 months in the Gaslamp Quarter. He did not want to share his name at this time.

He had invited his father, who he described as a retired schoolteacher, but he never arrived to the venue.

“He was coming to my show, and he didn't make it to my show," he said.

The victim's son recalled that he was notified of the shooting either late Thursday or early Friday. He said his mother had contacted him about it.

“My father’s in the hospital and he got shot in the stomach, apparently. He’s stable," he said. "They pulled the bullet out and they’re just monitoring him. Things can change pretty quickly but he’s stable, apparently. So I’m just hoping for the best and trying to stay positive and not freak out.”

He said he's in disbelief that the shooting happened and that one person was killed in the violence. He said he hopes the surviving victims, including his father, recover well and swiftly.

“It’s pretty surreal," he said. "I don’t know how to feel about it.”

The Shootings

San Diego police offered more information Friday afternoon about the mass shooting in the Gaslamp in which one man died and four other people were shot.

Investigators believe Travis Sarreshteh, a 32-year-old downtown resident, was unprovoked in the shooting, which they referred to as an isolated incident.

Sarreshteh was first captured by two good Samaritans, Police Chief David Nisleit said, who were then joined by a third person, before officers arrived and struggled to take him into custody, eventually Tasering him before being able to do so.

At around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, San Diego police began getting reports of gunfire along the 500 block of J Street at Fifth Avenue in downtown San Diego. The area is near the Pendry San Diego hotel, northwest of Petco Park and northeast of the San Diego Convention Center.

SDPD Lt. Andra Brown said on Thursday that when officers arrived, they found a 28-year-old man down on the sidewalk. According to witnesses, Brown said, the suspect encountered the victim on J Street in front of the hotel and near the valet area and shot him, unprovoked. He died at the scene.

The hotel and Ace Parking released statements Friday afternoon, confirming that the victim had been employed at the location as a valet.

Witnesses told police the suspect then walked north on Fifth Avenue – up one block to Island Avenue – where he had an argument with a group of men.

Brown said the suspect again began shooting, hitting four more victims at Fifth and Island avenues. The SDPD said three of those four victims were hospitalized. All are expected to survive. Police said Friday that the victims were known to each other and were visiting from out of town.

The victims are described as a 27-year-old man with serious injuries; a 68-year-old man; a 26-year-old man who was shot on the arm; and a 28-year-old man who also suffered an injury to his arm. All of those victims are expected to survive.

Gaslamp Shooting Suspect
Matt Buzan
GA suspect was taken into custody by police after the shooting

The suspected gunman was arrested; the gun was recovered by police, the lieutenant said.

No one else was hurt.

Brown said police were still interviewing many witnesses who were in the Gaslamp Quarter at the time of the shooting. The area is home to many hotels, restaurants and nightlife.

Brown said there had been some sort of “struggle” between the suspect and an officer who caught up to him before his arrest. That SDPD officer deployed his taser on the suspect.

Brown said the suspect was taken to a local hospital for injuries resulting from the struggle with the police officer.

Nisleit said that officers at the scene recovered a 9mm handgun at the scene.

Sarreshteh has been charged with murder and four counts of attempted murder.

Contact Us