San Diego

Officers in Paradise Hills SWAT Standoff Shooting Identified

One of the officers has been involved in four other officer-involved shootings

The officers who shot the suspect in the hourslong SWAT standoff in Paradise Hills on Thursday were identified Saturday by the San Diego Police Department.

The officers were Jacob Castillo, a five-year veteran; Timothy Arreola, a six-year veteran; Juan Ponce, a seven-year veteran; Aziz Brou, a 12-year veteran; and Richard Butera, a 16-year veteran.

The incident started around 2:10 p.m. Thursday in the 1800 block of Altamont Court, east of Reo Drive, after a woman called police to report her boyfriend acting strangely, Lt. Matt Dobbs said.

Other residents also called in to report the man pointing a rifle at residents driving by and possibly firing a shot, he said.

When officers arrived, they immediately heard gunfire in the backyard of the house, Dobbs said. At least two shots rung out, police told NBC7 Thursday. 

During the SWAT incident, the man confronted and aimed his gun at two SWAT officers and that was when the officers fired several shots him, Dobbs said.

The man, identified as Martin Girdner, 54, retreated into his home but came back out roughly 15 minutes later and pointed the rifle at the SWAT officers' location prompting three other SWAT officers to fire back, the lieutenant said.

Girdner was struck at least once by the gunfire and fell to the ground where he was taken into custody around 4 p.m. and transported to a local hospital where he underwent surgery, Dobbs said.

Girdner's wounds are considered life-threatening, he said. The suspect remains in custody in the hospital where he is stable, Dobb said.

The gunfire prompted a lockdown at nearby Paradise Hills Elementary School, 5816 Alleghany Street. Police evacuated some nearby residents and told others to shelter in place.

Buttera has been involved in at least four other officer-involved shootings.

  • On Dec. 10, 2017, Butera shot and killed Kyle Zahacefski of Colchester, Connecticut, who was armed with a knife and walking pointedly at officers. The District Attorney's Office found the shooting justified.
  • On June 1, 2013, Butera fatally shot Giacomo James Cargnoni, 21. It was unclear what happened during that incident.
  • On  Jan. 3, 2014, Butera shot Joshua Adam Sisson, 30, to death. Sisson had a felony parole warrant for his arrest. The D.A.'s office found shooting be legally justified.
  • On Jan. 26, 2014, Butera shot a driver who was holding a woman hostage and fleeing from police during a car chase. The San Diego District Attorney's office cleared Butera of wrongdoing.
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