A fugitive suspected of opening fire on law enforcement personnel on two occasions over the last month, wounding a bail bondsman, was fatally shot by police Tuesday after allegedly exchanging gunfire again with officers during a road chase that ended in a standoff at San Diego High School.
A pair of SWAT officers shot 36-year-old Christopher Templo Marquez at about 8 a.m. when he appeared to threaten a female companion with a rifle as the pair were hunkered down in a commercial trash bin at the Park Boulevard campus, according to the San Diego Police Department.
About 12 hours earlier, Marquez and the woman fled when National City police tried to pull them over in the area of Interstate 805 and South 43rd Street in the Southcrest area, SDPD Lt. Matt Dobbs said.
The pursuit wound its way to the north and west, eventually reaching Loma Portal via Interstate 8, Dobbs said. There, the fleeing driver exited the freeway, then promptly doubled back and got back onto it near the intersection of Nimitz and West Point Loma boulevards.
As the suspect’s vehicle entered eastbound I-8, one of the occupants fired on the pursuing police cruiser, Dobbs said. The chase then continued to the south into the East Village, where the police vehicle was again fired on in the area of A Street and 10th Avenue.
The chase lasted until about 8:45 p.m., when the fleeing fugitive drove through a gate at the downtown high school. At that point, one of the suspects fired a third volley at the pursuing police personnel, prompting a National City officer to shoot back with his service rifle.
No officers were injured by the shootings. It was unclear if Marquez was wounded by the officer’s return fire.
After pulling to a stop on a football field at the school, the suspect and his companion got out of the car and ran off, armed with a rifle and a handgun, and took refuge in the garbage bin, Dobbs said.
Over the next 11 hours, crisis negotiators tried in vain to get Marquez to surrender.
“Throughout the negotiations, (Marquez) became more agitated and apparently turned his anger towards the woman with him,” the lieutenant said. “The woman attempted to escape from the dumpster on several occasions, but (he) pulled her back in. During the course of the negotiations, the woman surrendered (the) handgun in exchange for water.”
As the standoff got underway, special weapons and tactics officers took up elevated positions that allowed them to see into the large trash receptacle and hear what the suspects were saying, according to police.
“The man eventually made comments and pushed the woman into a position where they believed he was going to shoot her,” Dobbs said. “When the officers saw the man maneuvering a rifle towards the woman, two SWAT officers fired their service weapons at the man, striking him.”
Marquez was pronounced dead at the scene. His companion was taken into custody, uninjured. It was not immediately clear if the woman, whose name was withheld, will face criminal charges in the case.
The standoff at the campus prompted San Diego Unified School District officials to switch classes there and at East Village Middle College High School and Garfield High School to remote-learning formats for the day.
Marquez’s capture had been a high priority for local law enforcement agencies over the last month, during which he allegedly fired on officers twice over a three-week period.
The first of the two firearm assaults occurred March 15 outside a home on East J Street in Chula Vista and left a bounty hunter who was trying to take Marquez into custody on a felony warrant with non-life-threatening bullet wounds.
The second shooting took place April 5, after National City police spotted a stolen car in a Jack in the Box drive-thru on Roosevelt Avenue, authorities said. Officers surrounded the restaurant and its parking lot and were trying to make contact with three people inside the vehicle when one of the passengers — later identified as Marquez — jumped out and ran off.
Marquez then allegedly opened fire on pursuing officers while bolting onto an on-ramp from East Seventh Street to northbound Interstate 5, prompting them to return fire. Marquez escaped by running across the freeway. That shootout resulted in no reported injuries.
Updated at 3:03 p.m. April 13, 2021