SDPD kills person of interest in incident that led to deadly police shooting at Mesa College: SDSO

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A man shot and killed by San Diego police in the College Area Tuesday night was connected to an alleged crime that preceded another deadly police shooting Aug. 2 on the Mesa College campus, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Police found the man Tuesday evening in an apartment on El Cajon Boulevard near College Avenue, according to SDSO Lt. Joseph Jarjura. He was described by deputies as a person of interest in the Aug. 2 incident.

The man obeyed officers' orders to exit his apartment but came out with what appeared to be a gun in his hands, Lt. Jarjura said. He put the gun down on the ground, and while officers were ordering him to move away from the weapon, he lunged toward it, according to Jarjura.

At least one SDPD officer shot the man. He was given first aid, but died at the scene, Jarjura said.

"We are still trying to figure it out, but we believe that it started on the roadways," police said. NBC 7's Jeanette Quezada has more details.

On Aug. 2, SDPD officers shot and killed Benjamin Pickens, 33, on campus at Mesa College after Pickens shot and killed a K-9 officer named Sir. He was a suspect in a shooting reported on the 5300 block of Ben Street in Clairemont at around 1:30 a.m., Jarjura told NBC 7 following the incident. The sheriff's department's confirmation of the deadly police shooting Tuesday night in the College Area was the first time law enforcement mentioned a person of interest in the shooting reported on Ben Street.

Investigators said Pickens fired shots at someone from a white Tesla and drove away. No one was injured by the gunfire, but Pickens' alleged intended target gave police a partial license plate number that helped them track the Tesla down hours later.

SDPD officers attempted to stop Pickens, but he continued driving onto the Mesa College campus where he ditched the Tesla, the sheriff's department said Aug. 2. Officers found Pickens on campus armed with a handgun, and as a K-9 handler released Sir, a 4 ½-year-old Belgian Malinois, Pickens allegedly shot and killed the dog. SDPD Officer Addam Ansari, an 11-year veteran of the department, shot Pickens, according to the sheriff's department.

Sir was shot in the upper right chest during the exchange and was taken to a veterinary clinic where he died. SDPD posted a moving tribute on social media honoring him.

Pickens was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, officers said.

It is not known what prompted Pickens and the person of interest killed Tuesday to shoot at the person on Ben Street.

"We are still trying to figure it out, but we believe that it started on the roadways. One vehicle, possibly trying to pass the other vehicle or some type of incident," Lt. Jarjura said.

SDSO is not classifying this incident as road rage but said it seems to have initiated on the roadway where Pickens followed the victim into a residential neighborhood.

The SDSO is investigating both police shootings, which is protocol for incidents in which an SDPD officer fires their weapon.

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