Man Accused of Assaulting Cop Caught at Cemetery

National City police searched La Vista Cemetery and surrounding areas for a man accused of assaulting an officer

Police launched an intense search in National City Thursday morning for an injured, bleeding suspect accused of assaulting an officer with a truck.

Officials confirmed an officer-involved shooting at around 8:30 a.m. near the 2700 block of East 16th Street.

Before that, police officers had been called to a nearby alleyway to investigate a man in a suspicious vehicle. When officers ran the plates, they found the owner of the car had a warrant out for his arrest and was considered armed and dangerous.

When officers approached the driver he allegedly threw the truck in reverse. An officer was injured by the moving vehicle. Officials said the second cop then fired his service weapon at the suspect, sending off at least one round.

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The suspect – now identified by police as Jesus Gustavo Leos, 30 – was struck in the arm. He then fled in his car, plowing through a chain-link gate at a nearby church parking lot in order to get out of the alley. He was seen driving toward Granger Avenue.

Shortly thereafter, Leos ditched his truck at La Vista Cemetery, which is near Sweetwater Road and Interstate 805. Officers found the vehicle and surrounded the cemetery because they believed that’s where the suspect was hiding.

The search began with dozens of officers, including at least one K-9, scouring the cemetery grounds and surrounding areas.

The National City Police Department (NCPD) asked residents to keep an eye out for the suspect and call 911 if they spotted him, as the cemetery is located near homes.

Police described the suspect’s injury as “serious with heavy bleeding,” according to a NCPD message posted to Twitter.

"We are actively searching for a Hispanic male suspect for assaulting an officer," the NCPD tweeted in another message. "Suspect has a dark shirt and may have a gunshot in the arm."

Neighboring Lincoln Acres School and Granger Junior High School were placed on precautionary lockdown while police searched for the suspect. Those lockdowns were later lifted.

Aerial footage showed officers searching behind trees and in the grassy parts of the cemetery. At one point, officers entered a small shed on site.

By 9:33 a.m., the suspect, who was hiding in a shed on cemetery grounds, was taken into custody, police confirmed. Officers could be seen speaking with the handcuffed suspect. About five minutes later, police escorted the man out of the cemetery.

Paul Landsdale, the groundskeeper at La Vista Cemetery, told NBC 7 he witnessed the tense moments as officers entered the shed and arrested Leos.

“[The police] proceeded to go inside, guns drawn, [and said], ‘Keep your hands where I can see them. Don’t move! Don’t move!’” Landsdale recalled. “And I guess he moved, because there was a big tussle for about 15 to 30 seconds. Then there was silence, a little bit more yelling and the K-9 unit appeared and the guy cooperated to the fullest because that’s when they drew him out.”

NBC 7 also spoke with a witness at the church where Leos drove through the gate before the search ensued.

Satu Taufi said he heard five gunshots ring out. He was in the church parking lot when he then saw the suspect drive through the fence in an effort to evade police.

“I think he knew this area very well and he just [drove] through our gate,” said Taufi.

Steven Luke
This witness said he heard five gunshots erupt before the search in National City Thursday. He also witnessed the suspect plow through this fence to evade police.

Police said there was also a female passenger in Leos' truck before the search, along with her 1-year-old child. They were found later and were unharmed, police said. Officials do not believe the woman will face charges in connection with the ordeal.

Check back for updates on this story.

NBC 7 video of the search for a wounded suspect in an officer involved shooting in National City.
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