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Suspect Identified in Shooting of 2 San Diego Police Officers

Both officers were members of SDPD's Elite Gang Unit

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    SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman spoke at a press conference Friday evening, identifying the suspect taken into custody in connection to the shooting. A potential suspect was also named. (Published Friday, July 29, 2016)

    San Diego police identified a suspect in the shooting of two police officers following a traffic stop Thursday night. 

    Jesse Michael Gomez, 52, was taken into custody Friday, San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Chief Shelley Zimmerman said at a press conference.

    Police located Gomez in a ravine in the 1300 block of 38th Street shortly after the shooting with a gunshot wound. He was taken into custody in critical condition. His condition was unclear Friday night. 

    The two officers, Jonathan "JD" De Guzman, 43, and Wade Irwin, 32, were conducting a traffic stop shortly before 11 p.m. in the 3700 block of Acacia Grove Way near Boston Avenue in San Diego's Southcrest neighborhood when shots were fired, Zimmerman said Friday afternoon. It’s still unclear whether the stop was for a pedestrian or a vehicle.  

    San Diego Police Department Officer Jonathan DeGuzman (left), was fatally shot and Officer Wade Irwin (right) was wounded during a traffic stop in San Diego on Thursday, July 28, 2016.
    Photo credit: San Diego Police Department

    Both officers were found with gunshot wounds. 

    De Guzman, was rushed in a patrol car to Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest, where he was later pronounced dead. De Guzman was a 16-year veteran of the force. Irwin, a 9-year-veteran, is seriously wounded, but it expected to survive. 

    "I can’t begin to put in words the emotions and feelings that surround an event like this. This is one of the most difficult and heart-wrenching situations for police officers to go through," Zimmerman said following the shooting. 

    A second “potential, potential” suspect was also in custody Friday night, Zimmerman said. 

    Marcus Antonio Cassani was arrested on an outstanding warrant following an hourslong standoff at a home in the city’s Shelltown area. Zimmerman said it remained unclear if Cassani was connected with the shooting of the two officers. 

    Officials surrounded two homes on Friday. The first lasted nearly five hours, with SWAT officials attempting to negotiate with someone inside a home. 

    "We hear you coughing in there," SWAT officials called out. "We know you're hurting in there. Man up. This isn't going to get any easier." 

    Officials used tear gas and broke into the house from a back door, according to NBC 7 crews. 

    Police also surrounded a second home Friday afternoon near 41st and Delta Streets in the Shelltown area, but it was unclear if there were any arrests made. 

    Following the incident, Zimmerman said the shooting occurred "seconds to a minute or so," both officers were wearing personal body cameras, and "there is video evidence." 

    San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer released this statement Friday morning on the tragedy: 

    “Last night we lost one of San Diego’s finest. We grieve for our fallen officer and stand with his family during this very difficult time. We also pray for the second officer shot last night as he recovers from surgery. Violence against the men and women who wear the badge is violence against us all. I ask all San Diegans and all people across our nation to join together in support of our officers who courageously protect our communities. We need them and they need us.”

    The mayor was out of town with his family at the time of the shooting. Zimmerman said she's been briefing Faulconer over the phone and he is now on his way back to San Diego. 

    The National Action Network (NAN) San Diego, a community organization led by Reverend Shane Harris, released a statement regarding the shooting, "We condemn anyone who uses vengeance as a tool to kill innocent police or innocent victims." 

    San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis also released a statement Friday morning which said, in part: 

    "This senseless act once again highlights the dangers our peace officers face on a daily basis as they work to ensure and protect the public’s safety. The District Attorney’s Crimes Against Peace Officers Unit is working closely with SDPD to investigate and review this case so those responsible for this cowardly act will be held accountable." 

    There is no indication the officers were specifically targeted, as in recent incidents in Dallas and Baton Rouge that collectively claimed the lives of eight officers. 

    "I can tell you [De Guzman] is a loving, caring husband, father, talked about his family all the time," Zimmerman told reporters at Friday’s briefing. "I personally worked with him when I was a lieutenant at Mid-City Division. I know him. This is gut-wrenching. He cared. He came to work every single day just wanting to make a positive difference in his community."

     

    NBC's Rajeev Dhir contributed to this report. 

    Sean Rayford/Getty Images