Authorities late Wednesday identified the outstanding suspect wanted in the shooting of an off-duty lawman and a bystander near Petco Park.
The victims suffered non life-threatening gunshot wounds in the shooting, which occurred at 1:17 a.m. Monday in the 500 block of Island Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Philpot was walking with a group of people, including two off-duty Escondido police officers, when a long-haired man armed with a pistol confronted them.
The deputy tried in vain to wrest away the weapon, and during the struggle it repeatedly discharged, wounding him three times in the shoulder, San Diego Police Officer John Buttle said. A man walking nearby was injured in an arm by an apparent stray round.
Medics took Philpot to UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest. The other victim drove himself to a hospital, SDPD Lt. Ernesto Servin said.
It was unclear what prompted the violence.
“We know there was a confrontation,” Servin told reporters. “But what was said? We don’t know exactly.”
Following the gunfire, the assailant, identified Wednesday by police as 37-year-old Ray Koloseta Pitoau, fled to the south and east. Pitoau is Samoan, 5 feet 11 inches tall, 225 pounds with black hair and brown eyes, police said.
Pitoau has a distinguished “SD” tattoo on his upper right chest. He was wearing black shorts and a long-sleeved shirt at the time of the shooting.
Pitoau is considered to be armed and dangerous. He may have been with a companion at the time of the fracas, according Servin, although he stressed Pitoau being the main focus.
Servin noted that law enforcement officers are entitled to carry a gun while off duty but said he did not know if any of those involved in the incident were armed.
Philpot has been employed by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for 11 years and serves in the agency’s Emergency Services Division.
Anyone with information on Pitoau’s whereabouts is asked to call the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000 or San Diego Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.
Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
— City News Service
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