The man accused of shooting two San Diego police officers – killing one and seriously wounding the other – allegedly fired at the officers point-blank, shooting one in the throat and the other in the torso.
Jesse Michael Gomez, 52, was arraigned on a first-degree murder charge and a felon with a firearm charge with a special circumstance that carries the potential for the death penalty. The decision on whether the death penalty will be sought will not be made until after the preliminary hearings, according to a San Diego County District Attorney spokesperson.
Gomez was arraigned in the hospital, where he is receiving treatment for a gunshot wound he received during the Thursday shootout with the San Diego police officers. He pleaded not guilty through public defender Troy Britt; bail was set at $5 million.
In a news conference after the arraignment, officials released further details into what happened the night one SDPD officer died and another was wounded.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said the shooting happened when SDPD Officers Wade Irwin and Jonathan De Guzman initiated a pedestrian stop late Thursday night. Officer Irwin got out and asked Gomez if he lived in the area, Runyon said.
Gomez allegedly turned around and shot Irwin with a handgun, striking him in the throat.
He then made his way to the patrol car where De Guzman was in the driver's seat, Runyon said. Gomez shot De Guzman point-blank in the car multiple times before he ever raised his service weapon, Runyon said.
De Guzman was struck in the right torso; the bullet punctured both lungs, severed his spine and punctured his pulmonary artery. He suffered four additional bullet wounds.
Runyon said Officer Irwin could see his partner being shot and, despite his wounds, raised his service weapon and fired at the suspect. He was unsure if he had struck the suspect, Runyon said.
At that point, Gomez fled the scene. At this point, Irwin activated his body-worn camera.
"At that time according to Officer Irwin, Officer De Guzman was not saying anything and all he could hear from Officer De Guzman was moaning sounds," Runyon said.
Authorities followed a trail of blood to a ravine, where they found Gomez unconscious, Runyon said. A firearm, magazine and matching ammunition were found nearby, Runyon said.
At the scene of the shooting, police recovered 13 shell casings. Twelve casings were in the street, and one was found in the passenger seat, indicating De Guzman had been shot from a "very close range," Runyon said.
Irwin, who is recovering at a local hospital, later helped police identify Gomez from a line up of photos, officials said.
Reached at their family home Thursday, Gomez’ son and brother said no one in the family can believe Gomez was involved.
“He’s a good guy,” his son, Danny said.
Court records paint a much different picture, showing Gomez has an extensive criminal history: he has previous convictions of carrying a concealed firearm, carrying a firearm while under the influence of methamphetamine and being a convicted felon while having a firearm. He also has a 1983 joyriding conviction.
Bail for Gomez was set at $5 million. He is set to appear in court next on Sept. 1.