San Diego deputies are asking for the public's help identifying a man accused of lighting firecrackers inside a Target store in Vista, leading customers and employees, who thought gunfire had erupted, to run for shelter and flood 911 dispatchers with calls.
Multiple law enforcement raced to the Target store on Business Park Way in Vista Tuesday night after 911 callers reported gunfire inside.
A string of cracks and pops sent people in the store into a frenzy. Some found places to hide and others dashed for the exits. Many of them called 911 thinking they had heard a series of gunshots.
As law enforcement teams swept the store department by department, they found several groups in hiding. They found no shooter or evidence of gunfire, but they did find spent fireworks in a trashcan and throughout a store isle.
"It's a strain on resources and what not, and thankfully the outcome is what we have, but I think it is pretty despicable for somebody to do something like this considering, like you just said, but right now with tensions as high as they are you can't overlook anything. You've got to give it 100% until you find out any different," San Diego County Sheriff's Department deputy Terry Phillips said after the incident.
Phillips said all the security cameras inside could produce footage that could lead investigators to whoever lit the firecrackers. The next day, the SDSO released an image of a man they say entered the isle where the firecrackers were found just before a large flash of light went off.
The man in the photo was wearing a black baseball cap and black neck gaiter, concealing most of his facial features.
Anyone who recognizes the suspect or has any information about the incident is asked to call the SDSO at (858) 565-5200.
No injuries were reported.