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Borrego Springs Stabbing Victim Identified; Investigation Into Shooting of Suspect Continues

George Mendenhall was fatally stabbed in his garage early Wednesday morning. A man suspected in the slaying was later fatally shot in an incident involving a sheriff's sergeant in Descanso.

The victim of a fatal stabbing at a Borrego Springs residence early Wednesday has been identified as George Mendenhall, age 71.

An investigation into the shooting death of a suspect in the case, Craig Peterson, is under way, according to Sgt. Roy Frank of the Sheriff's Department's homicide team. Peterson died after Sheriff's Sgt. Manual Diaz opened fire on him in a park-and-ride lot in Descanso at about 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Diaz has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation by the homicide team, Frank said. This type of leave usually lasts about three days, Frank said. Diaz has been with the Sheriff's Department for 22 years. He is currently on assignment with the Pine Valley rural station. He has been offered counseling. This is common procedure following a staff related shooting, Frank confirmed.

"This is traumatic for everyone involved," he said.

Mendenhall was reported to have died in his garage after the stabbing, which occurred at about 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Frank said the motive for the stabbing is still under investigation. There were reports Wednesday that Mendenhall and Peterson had known each other for about 10 years.

Diaz reportedly spotted Peterson at the park-and-ride lot in the suspect vehicle, a light blue truck. It was reported that as he approached Peterson, the suspect raised what appeared to be a weapon and Diaz opened fire.

Frank said Thursday that a nail gun was found in the bed of the truck where the suspect was found.

About 13 vehicles were held at the park-and-ride in Descanso Wednesday while the scene was processed.

The Sheriff's Department's investigation of the shooting incident will be reviewed by the District Attorney's office, Frank said. An autopsy is under way on Peterson.

"We look at the evidence and witness accounts and try to reconstruct the situation," he said.

Frank said the investigation and review will take some time and then the District Attorney will make a decision about the shooting.

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