Downtown San Diego

Man Who Broke Up Fight on MTS Bus Could Face Murder Charge After Aggressor's Death

Police say the suspect restrained one of the aggressors for several minutes in an attempt to stop the fight

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An MTS bus passenger who broke up a fight between a man and a woman in the East Village on Saturday night could face a first-degree murder charge because the man he restrained died, according to police.

The fight happened around 8 p.m. on a bus near 14th and F streets.

“That disturbance became violent," San Diego Police Lt. Steve Shebloski said. "Several other passengers on the bus interceded and ended up restraining the male.”

When police arrived, the male aggressor, identified only as a 28-year-old, was found unresponsive on the floor of the bus. They said he died after being restrained for several minutes by Edward Hilbert, 55.

The San Diego Department recommended the first-degree murder charge, but the San Diego COunty District Attorney's Office has not filed any charges officially. SDPD and the DA's Office declined to comment Monday, but former San Diego DA Paul Pfingst was willing to give his take on why police may have recommended the murder charge.

"When someone intervenes in a dispute between other people, they don’t get a blank check to do whatever they want," Pfingst said. "And if they behave recklessly or if they behave with disproportionate force to the circumstances, they can be charged with crimes.”

Murder charges require a degree of malice, Pfingst said. After reviewing the case, the DA could recommend lesser charges like involuntary manslaughter or false imprisonment.

"These cases are rare, and we want to encourage people to protect the vulnerable from predators. And as a District Attorney — someone who has been in that position before — we are very reluctant to prosecute people of goodwill who are trying to protect another and I would expect that sensitivity from the District Attorney.”

Hilbert was booked into county jail and faces one count of murder, police said. He is expected to be arraigned on Wednesday.

San Diego Police Department's Homicide Unit is investigating the incident.

Anyone with information can call the Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.  

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