A 32-year-old man was behind bars Friday on suspicion of shooting five strangers in the Gaslamp District with an untraceable “ghost gun,” killing one of them, before being chased down and subdued by witnesses.
Travis Fereydoun Sarreshteh of San Diego allegedly opened fire on a 28-year-old man with a pistol for unknown reasons in front of a hotel in the 500 block of J Street about 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
The shooting, which left the victim dead at the scene, was “completely unprovoked,” SDPD Chief David Nisleit told reporters.
Sarreshteh then allegedly walked off to the north, got into a confrontation with a group of men on the next block and shot each of them.
Following the second barrage of gunfire, two witnesses rushed the suspect and tackled him, then held him for police with the help of other good Samaritans, according to Nisleit. Officers soon arrived and arrested the suspect following a struggle during which they zapped him with an electric stun gun.
Paramedics took the surviving victims — four visitors to San Diego, ages 26, 27, 28 and 68 — to a hospital, where two were admitted in critical condition. All four were expected to survive, according to police.
The shooting that wounded the group of tourists may have taken place following “some kind of altercation,” the police chief said.
“We’re still trying to work exactly that out,” Nisleit told news crews Friday afternoon. “Possibly somebody bumped into somebody and that caused an exchange of words.”
Sarreshteh — who allegedly carried out the shootings with a 9mm “ghost gun,” a type of non-commercial firearm lacking a serial number — refused to provide police with a statement following his arrest, according to Nisleit.
During the news conference at downtown SDPD headquarters, the chief praised the “two gentlemen that literally tackled an armed assailant,” adding that “the struggle was pretty bad.”
Nisleit also offered thanks to the other witnesses who offered their help at the twin scenes of the shooting rampage.
“We had multiple citizens willing to confront the assailant, we had citizens helping those who were injured, and we had citizens that stayed and provided phenomenal witness statements to really help this investigation,” he said.
The Gaslamp Quarter Association released a statement Friday evening in response to the shootings:
“The Gaslamp Quarter Association would like to extend its condolences to the family, friends, and fellow coworkers of the victims of last night’s tragic shooting. It is sad to see the steady rise in mass shootings around the country and would like to thank the brave citizens who helped San Diego Police Department apprehend the assailant quickly. The Gaslamp Quarter Association works with the San Diego Police Department daily to help keep the community and our visitors safe. Last night’s event was an isolated incident according to San Diego Police Department and was not gang related.
The Gaslamp Quarter Association would like to support all who were impacted by this tragedy. Our association has been working closely with our city leaders and will continue to work in partnership with them to make sure the safety and security of our guests, employees, and residents in the Gaslamp Quarter and in Downtown San Diego remain a top priority.
Crisis counseling has been offered by the District Attorney’s office anyone who is in need can call the Victim Witness Assistance program at 619-531-4041.”
Updated at 7:31 p.m. April 23, 2021
— Elizabeth Ireland contributed to this report