By Karen Kucher and Lyndsay Winkley – UT San Diego
SAN DIEGO — A man who shot a San Diego police officer was killed by officers after a freeway pursuit ended in a shootout Sunday morning in the Serra Mesa area of San Diego, police said.
The officer, who is a five-year veteran, was shot in the upper torso. Another officer put her into a patrol car and raced her to Sharp Memorial Hospital, which is right down the street, police said. She is expected to recover and was “talking, smiling and in good spirits” at the hospital, said police Chief Shelley Zimmerman.
“Whenever we hear something like this, all of us take a deep breath and hope,” Zimmerman said Sunday morning. “It’s very concerning for all of us, but we got great news.”
Zimmerman said the officer’s parents and fiancé were with her at the hospital. Her name was not released because there were family members who still need to be told of her condition.
Investigators said the suspect may be connected to a recent series of shootings at Kearny Mesa businesses and offices.
The incident began shortly after 7:30 a.m. when patrol officers spotted a gray Jeep driving about 90 mph on south Interstate 805 near state Route 163. When they tried to pull it over, the driver sped off. Officers lost sight of the vehicle near Mesa College Drive, acting homicide Capt. Mike Hastings said.
A short time later, police found the Jeep abandoned in a car port at the Cabrillo Palisades, an apartment complex off Harmarsh Street, just north of Mesa College Drive in the Birdland community, Hastings said. Officers surrounded the area and spotted a man who matched the description of the driver. When they went to talk with him, he ran.
As officers chased him south across Mesa College Drive, he pulled out a handgun and shot at them, Hastings said. At least one bullet struck the officer, who was on Mesa College just east of Route 163. She’s a training officer and had a trainee with her at the time of the shooting. Other officers came to her aid and used a trauma kit to render aid before driving her to the hospital.
At least two officers returned fire, and the suspect was killed, his body falling in a brushy area, Hastings said. Police didn’t say how many rounds were shot or which officers fired. The shooting was reported about 8:15 a.m.
Hastings said at least one officer was equipped with a body camera, but it was not known if it was on or if there’s footage of the shooting.
Police are looking into whether the suspect was connected to a series of six shootings that have been reported in Kearny Mesa since January.
The San Diego Gas & Electric building was targeted twice, most recently on May 10. A 7-Eleven store, a San Diego Tire and Wheel and several other offices and businesses were hit. No one was hurt, but in four of the shootings, people were inside the buildings. SDG&E offered a $10,000 reward for information that led to an arrest.
Hastings said the license plate of the Jeep the suspect was driving may match the license plate of a vehicle seen near at least some of those shootings.
Emily Leinenweaver, who lives in a Cabrillo Palisades apartment with her husband, was on her balcony about 8 a.m. when she noticed police cars roving around the area of Mesa College Drive and Annrae Street. She went back inside and that’s when she heard about a dozen gunshots.
“My husband was still upstairs sleeping and he came running downstairs wanting to know what was going on,” the 26-year-old said. “I told him, ‘I think the police just shot somebody.’ ”