Read updates to story: Sergeant With the Santee Sheriff's Station Wounded in Lakeside Shootout, Suspect in Lakeside Shooting Pleads Not Guilty to Attempted Murder
Updated at 11:10 p.m. Sept. 25, 2012
Authorities say Dan Witczak, 30, is the suspect in Tuesday’s shootout in Lakeside, which wounded a sheriff’s sergeant and detective near El Capitan High School.
Witczak allegedly opened fire on the pair with a high-powered rifle when they arrived at his rental residence to question him about his alleged molestation of one his live-in girlfriend's two young daughters, who are not related to him.
U-T San Diego reported the wounded men were “Sgt. Craig Johnson, a 23-year veteran of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, and child abuse unit Detective Ali Perez, an 18-year veteran.”
The gunfire at Ashwood and Mapleview streets in Lakeside, the Maplewood Apartment Complex, was reported about 12:15 p.m., according to sheriff's Capt. Duncan Fraser.
Medics took the three wounded men to Sharp Memorial and Scripps Mercy hospitals in San Diego. All three were in surgery in the late afternoon, Fraser said. Their conditions were not immediately available.
The entire sheriff’s homicide unit was at the crime scene, and authorities say they will likely be on scene throughout the night.
Sheriff Bill Gore issued a statement late Tuesday night: “We had two of our deputies shot today in the line of duty. It’s a constant reminder of how dangerous this job is that we do every day. There is cause for great concern, but we arehopeful and cautiously optimistic that both deputies will make a full recovery.”
A Grossmont Union High School District statement later Tuesday night said:
“El Capitan High School will follow a Collaboration Bell Schedule for ... Wednesday, Sept. 26. Period 1 will begin at 8:27 a.m. and period 2 will begin at 9:14 a.m. Please check the school's website in the morning for the most current information, should this change.”
A woman who identified herself as the wounded suspect's live-in girlfriend told reporters the events that led to the shooting began about 7:30 a.m., when she found cell-phone photos of him performing lewd acts with one of her two young daughters, who are not related to him.
She said she left their apartment and called the Sheriff's Department to report the child molestation allegation. Later in the morning, during a call being monitored by detectives, the suspect allegedly admitted to the crimes, claiming he had received an offer of $50,000 to post the pornographic images online.
The woman said she was still on the phone with her boyfriend when the lawmen arrived at the couple's apartment and, a short time later, shots rang out. Fraser said the lawmen on scene when the shooting occurred included a child abuse detective, deputies from the Santee Sheriff's Station, and COPPS (Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving) deputies.
The mother said it sounded to her as if the 30-year-old suspect shot himself. After the gunfire ceased, the woman heard her boyfriend announce that he was surrendering, she said.
Neighborhood resident Jodi Davis told NBC San Diego at least a dozen gunshots had sounded in rapid succession.
El Capitan High and Lindo Park Elementary were placed on lockdown as a precaution, authorities said, but the lockdown was lifted an hour later. Dozens of California Highway Patrol, Sheriff's Department and police cars provided backup.
The local chapter of the American Red Cross was helping affected residents in the area that couldn't get back to their homes, offering drinks and other needs at Lindo Lake County Park. Mapleview Street was shut down, and traffic was heavy on northbound state Route 67, backed up to Interstate 8 during rush hour.
Detectives were canvassing the area and interviewing numerous witnesses, the captain told reporters.
Students: GUHSD announced El Capitan High will follow a Collaboration Bell sked for Wed, Sept. 26. Period 1 at 8:27 a.m. and period 2 at 9:14 a.m. http://elcapitan.guhsd.net/
—City News Service contributed to this report.