Tijuana State Agent Shot in Ambush Attack

A Tijuana state police agent was shot in the La Mesa neighborhood of Tijuana around 10 p.m. Thursday, according to one Baja California law enforcement source and multiple Tijuana news reports.

The Zeta newspaper is identifying the law enforcement agent as the coordinator for the Public Ministry of Malicious Homicides for the Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado de Baja California (PGJE).

He was driving in an official PGJE van when he was shot in an ambush-style attack by an unknown number of people who ran away, according to reports.

The officer suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the throat and stomach, according to the Zeta. He was rushed to the hospital with grave injuries.

The officer was initially thought to have died from his injuries, but he remains in stable condition, according to a friend of the family. 

The officer, Jose Andre Cato Pico, by all accounts and law enforcement officers is an exemplary police officer and loving father, according to the family friend who reached out to NBC7.

His assailants have not been captured, as of the last update.

"When we hear about any police officer being shot, it strikes a chord," San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said. "Every day, we don our badge to make sure all of our neighborhoods are safe, so when one police officer is shot, you know, we all feel that pain."

Zimmerman confirmed some people may not realize how much cross-border collaboration there is among law enforcement agencies.

Many officers from different agencies in the region know each other from task forces or advisory committees or even friendly competitions between agencies.

"Just a couple months ago, I traveled to Tijuana to meet the new Secretary of Public Safety Mr. Sotomayor and we talked about how we're one region and how we must share information to keep us all safe. So, when something like this happens, it does affect us all," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman agreed the details of the Baja officer being shot multiple times in his police vehicle were unfortunately familiar to San Diegans.

Last July 2016, Officer Jonathan J.D. DeGuzman was shot multiple times, at point-blank range, while he was seated in his patrol vehicle. Prosecutors say DeGuzman never had a chance to raise his service weapon.

His partner, Officer Wade Irwin was also shot that day in the throat, and Zimmerman said he is continuing to recover.

"Unfortunately, we have felt that pain," she said.

Zimmerman said she's been working closely with law enforcement in Mexico to ensure rising violence in Baja does not impact San Diego.

"When I had the opportunity to speak with Sotomayor, he was telling me about the homicides that are occurring in Tijuana, which are way too many, hundreds, and the vast majority of them are related to the drug trade," Zimmerman said.

Baja California Attorney General Miguel Guerrero said there were 910 homicides in Tijuana in 2016 - a record high.

That's even more than in 2008 - a historic year of cartel violence in Tijuana. But, Guerrero said at a news conference late last year the recent high rate of murders was related to street level drug dealers not high volume sales or high level drug operations.

By comparison, in San Diego there were 50 murders in 2016.

San Diego had the lowest murder rate among the 10 most populous cities in the country for the sixth straight year in a row, according to the UT San Diego.

Editor's note: This article initially reported the officer had died from his injuries in the hospital based on information provided to NBC7 by a law enforcement source and colleagues in Tijuana. We sincerely regret the error.  

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