The central jail in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A 23-year-old deputy who shot and killed a suspect during a foot chase near San Diego Central Jail last week has resigned from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Aaron Russell’s resignation on Wednesday came five days after he fatally shot 36-year-old San Diego resident Nicholas Peter Bils near the intersection of B and Front streets early in the evening last Friday, according to the sheriff’s department.

Bils, who had been arrested by rangers with the California Department of Parks and Recreation for allegedly threatening a ranger with a golf club at Old Town San Diego State Park, was being transported to the downtown detention facility when he managed to escape shortly before 6 p.m., San Diego police Lt. Matt Dobbs said.

“It appears (he) was able to slip the handcuffs off of at least one of his wrists and was able to open the door to the (government) vehicle,” Dobbs said.

As Bils ran off to the north, Russell, who was walking to work with a fellow deputy, saw him and gave chase along with his colleague. Moments later, Russell fired at least one round, mortally wounding the fleeing suspect.

Exactly what prompted the deputy to open fire remains unclear.

Russell had been with the department for 18 months, according to the San Diego Police Department, which is investigating the shooting.

He had been assigned to the Court Services Bureau, but was temporarily reassigned to the Detention Services Bureau due to the coronavirus pandemic, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

In an interview with NBC7 on Monday, Kathleen Bils said she was told her son “brandished a golf putter” near a ranger at the park. She said he would use the putter to putt a ball with his dog as a game.

Kathleen Bils also told the television station her son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.