An auto mechanic who carried out a shooting rampage at his University City apartment complex, killing a woman and wounding six others, was upset over a breakup and apparently targeted his victims randomly, authorities said Monday.
Peter Raymond Selis, 49, fired a large-caliber handgun into a crowd attending a birthday party in a pool area at the complex in the 9000 block of Judicial Drive just after 6 p.m. Sunday before being killed in an exchange of gunfire with San Diego police.
Though five of the victims were black and one Latino, authorities do not believe the rampage by the white shooter was an ethnicity-based hate crime, SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman said. One of the surviving victims is white.
“There is zero information to indicate that race played a factor in this terrible and horrific crime,” Zimmerman told news crews. “The victims were targeted for no other reason but their mere presence in the vicinity of the (shooting).”
Authorities have withheld the victims’ names, but the slain woman was identified to news crews by friends as Monique Clark of San Diego.
Selis’ girlfriend had broken up with him several days ago, leaving him “distraught” and depressed, the police chief said. He was sitting in a lounge chair holding a beer and speaking to the woman on his cellphone during his shooting spree, Zimmerman said.
“It is apparent that Selis wanted his ex-girlfriend to listen in as he carried out his rampage,” the chief told reporters.
Selis, who worked at a Ford dealership, was also deeply in debt and had filed for bankruptcy in 2015, according to news reports.
One of the shooter’s neighbors, who requested anonymity, told 10 News that Selis’ daughters told her alcohol abuse and depression likely played roles in the rampage. They said their father had undergone substance-abuse treatment and attempted suicide several times about a decade ago.
When officers arrived at the La Jolla Crossroads apartment complex, Selis fired in the direction of one of them, prompting three of the personnel to return fire, according to the SDPD. He died at the scene.
Four women and three men suffered bullet wounds during the assault. Clark was pronounced dead at Sharp Memorial Hospital.
A fourth man suffered a broken wrist and hand and suffered a concussion while fleeing the gunfire.
Two of the wounded remained hospitalized Monday afternoon in critical but stable condition, according to police.
One of the victims, 34-year-old Thomas Blea, told reporters during a news conference at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla that he was deeply thankful for the efforts of police and medical personnel who rushed to his aid and cared for him following the ordeal.
“Staff here at Scripps is great,” Blea told reporters, seated in a wheelchair outside the trauma center. “They welcomed me. They did above and beyond. Everybody’s done above and beyond. … It was a terrible experience that we went through. But I’m glad that … I’m all right. I’m glad that most of my friends are all right.”
Alliance San Diego, a social-justice advocacy agency, suggested that police officials might have rushed to judgment regarding the motive for the shooting rampage.
“We are concerned that even before an investigation has concluded, and despite evidence that the killer appeared to target black and Latino residents and let others leave, San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman has come to her own conclusions,” the group asserted in a statement.
People of color “need to know that law enforcement agencies are here to serve and protect all people,” the agency stated, adding that its members “call on Chief Zimmerman to conduct a thorough and complete investigation into the incident, including the possibility that the killer acted with racial animus.”
— City News Service