SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Just hours after two of his deputies were shot, San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore called for universal background checks for guns and improved mental health care.
“I'm just tired of going to hospitals in San Diego County to see if my deputies are going to live or die,” Gore said. “What's it going to take in this county _ what's it going to take in this country _ before we start addressing some of this senseless violence that we see out there?”
There needs to be a national debate on what needs to be done to control gun violence through “common sense solutions” like universal background checks and improved mental health care, he said.
On Thursday, a man who was recently determined to be suicidal shot two deputies, then turned the gun on himself, bringing a 10-hour standoff to a close.
Both deputies survived.
Deputy Colin Snodgrass underwent multiple surgeries after being hit by buckshot near his right knee when he was outside the home in the beach city of Encinitas, north of San Diego. Deputy James Steinmeyer was recovering at home after being treated for a wound to his forehead where he was grazed by buckshot.
Capt. Duncan Fraser said the shooter, Evan Kim Tian Kwik, 22, had no prior jail record. But deputies responding to a 911 call in December took him to a psychiatric evaluation and he was found to be suicidal.
A restraining order sought by his mother on Feb. 14 also said he was suicidal and armed with a knife and bear spray.
“I truly believe there is a very large chance he will die on his own or maybe take his own life,” Michelle Kwik said in the court documents seeking the order that were obtained by UT San Diego. “He is better off in jail than in a grave. Please help me help him.”
Deputies received a call from the mother at around 1 p.m. Wednesday saying Kwik had come to her home angry over the restraining order, Fraser said. He then stole her car.
He returned to the home at about 3 p.m., went into a crawl space in the attic and refused to leave. The mother called authorities again.
After deputies entered the home and asked him to come out, they shot pepper spray into the attic, Fraser said. Kwik responded by firing a 12-gauge shotgun through a vent and through the ceiling and walls.
Deputies didn't fire back because they couldn't get a clear view of Kwik. Also, nearby homes hadn't been evacuated, Fraser said.
Steinmeyer, 31, was grazed by buckshot when he peered through a hole in the ceiling to see Kwik, Fraser said. Snodgrass, 27, was outside the home on the other side of a fence, when the buckshot struck his leg. Another pellet was later found lodged into a couch in the neighboring home.
Authorities evacuated nine homes and asked television crews not to broadcast live. Buses were rerouted and area roads were closed.
After authorities failed to coax Kwik out of the home, Fraser held a news conference broadcast on TV in which he pleaded with the gunman “to resolve this peacefully and soon.”
Shortly after 1:30 a.m. Thursday, authorities sent a robotic device into the house to see if it was safe to enter, Fraser said. Kwik was found in the attic, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Kwik fired the gun six times, including the last fatal self-administered shot, Fraser said. The body was near 30 unspent gunshot shells. Authorities were trying to determine the owner of the shotgun.
Wednesday's shootings come five months after two San Diego County sheriff's deputies were wounded in a shootout in Lakeside while investigating a child molestation report.
Two officers were shot in a 15-minute gun battle on Sept. 25. One was hospitalized for three days, but the other suffered severe injuries and has undergone several surgeries. The suspect, whose case has not gone to trial yet, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder of a peace officer.
It has been “a real dark few weeks for all law enforcement in Southern California,” Sheriff Bill Gore said, referring to the manhunt for ex-police officer turned fugitive Christopher Dorner earlier this month.
Dorner is suspected of killing four people, including two lawmen from Riverside and San Bernardino. He died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound during a siege of a mountain cabin near Big Bear Lake.