San Diego

Man, Despondent and Armed With Replica Gun, Shot by Deputy on SR-125

According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO), the shooting involved a despondent man who had parked his car along the freeway and refused to follow orders from deputies

A reportedly despondent man parked along State Route 125 in San Diego's East County was shot by a deputy Friday evening after he allegedly refused to follow commands, pulling out a replica handgun in the confrontation.

Shots were fired on northbound SR-125 just after 7 p.m., between the Grossmont College Drive and Mission Gorge Road exits.

According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO), deputies had received a request at around 6:40 p.m. to check the welfare of a man who was threatening to harm himself.

After searching an area for about 15 minutes, deputies discovered the man -- now identified as Robert Westbrook, 31 -- sitting inside his parked car on the freeway near Grossmont College, north of Navajo Road.

When a deputy tried to approach Westbrook to talk, he was uncooperative, SDSO officials said.

At that point, Westbrook got out of his car and pulled out an object that looked like a handgun. The deputy drew his service weapon and opened fire on the suspect, striking him, the SDSO said.

Westbrook was rushed to Sharp Memorial Hospital where he underwent surgery to treat several gunshot wounds.

Just before 4:15 p.m. Saturday, SDSO officials confirmed Westbrook's surgery had been successful, and he is expected to survive.

The sheriff's department said no deputies were hurt in the shooting. The name of the deputy who fired on Westbrook will be released within the next week, officials said.

Investigators said they recovered some kind of weapon at the scene. On Saturday, the SDSO said Westbrook's weapon was a realistic replica of a semi-automatic pistol that fires BBs and pellets. Westbrook will be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Westbrook was living out of his car; the SDSO said witnesses told detectives that Westbrook had allegedly stated that he wanted a law enforcement officer to shoot him.

The investigation is ongoing; no further information was released.

All lanes of the freeway were shut down immediately following the shooting, and a Sig Alert was issued by the California Highway Patrol. Drivers were asked to avoid the area. The lanes reopened just before 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

Anyone with information on this case can call the SDSO's Homicide Detail at (858) 974-2321 or the department's after-hours line at (858) 565-5200. Tips can also be reported to Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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