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Neighbor Recounts Gunfire, SWAT Gassing, Robot Use
MT. HELIX -- A La Mesa School official who lives next door to the SWAT standoff on Grandview Avenue said he spent the day monitoring the seige and believes the SWAT team was sending in a robot to determine if the shooter is still alive.
Rick Winet (pictured right), a member of the La Mesa Spring Valley School Board, lives immediately next door to the home targeted by SWAT teams and said he was able to hear the heavy gunfire throughout the day, including what he believed to be a heavy exchange between the shooter and SWAT members at about 4 p.m.
Just before 10 p.m. Winet said he could see officers now entering the home and turning on lights.
"It looks like this must be over,'' he said.
But by 10:22 p.m. Winet said he heard more shots fired so he was remaining in his home. "This must not be over.''
Earlier Winet recounted a difficult day in his neighborhood.
"It's been quiet since 4 p.m. and I believe the house has been heavily gassed,'' Winet said by phone this evening. "I think they are sending in a robot to see if he has killed himself already or whether he was killed in the exchange of gunfire.''
Winet was home all day, but was keeping in close touch with his brother-in-law, Ted Fenn, a lieutenant with the La Mesa Police Department, who was advising him on how to remain safe.
"My house is pretty well sheltered from the next door, but I can look out the front of my house and see my neighbor's front lawn and the SWAT teams moving up and back,'' Winet said.
Winet said he heard the gunshots starting at about 10:15 a.m. and continued until about 11:45 a.m. He said he then stopped for several hours but then began again heavily around 4 p.m. with what he believes was a heavy exchange of gunfire between the shooter and the SWAT team members.
Winet has three children, but none were at home with him today.
"Just me and my beagle,'' he said. He said he is aware of gunshots shooting everywhere but felt safe because of the good guidance he was getting from law enforcement.
At 8:42 p.m. the Sheriff's Department issued a press release saying the standoff was continuing.
Deputies said it is believed the suspect is armed with a rifle, a shotgun and two handguns. The rifle is of particular concern to police because of its range. The 47-year-old suspect is holed up in a one-story ranch-style house that’s about 3,000 square feet.
Deputies said the suspect is not responding, despite the efforts of the Sheriff’s Crisis Negotiation Team to reach him by cell phone and bull horn.
Deputies denied reports that law enforcement has fired on the house, saying only a "non-lethal chemical agent" was used to fill the house with smoke. This gas causes a person’s eyes to water, throat and nose to burn in an effort to convince the suspect to surrender.
About four or five homes immediately surrounding the suspect’s house were evacuated. People who live in those homes did not request help with shelter.
For their safety, deputies are advising that people who are sheltering in place are strongly advised not to leave their homes.
There are checkpoints set up at the following locations:
• Grandview and Lawler
• Grandview at Angel’s Point
• Grandview and Resmar
• Grandview at Gabriel
Police said no one can drive beyond these checkpoints. If you choose to leave your home inside the one-mile area
of the incident scene, you will not be allowed back in. If you are sheltering in place and have an emergency, call 911. For other questions, call the Sheriff’s non-emergency line at (858) 565-5200.
Today's event started just after 10:00 a.m., when deputies from the Lemon Grove Sheriff’s Station responded to a domestic violence call in the 9900 block of Grandview Drive.
A fiancé of the 47-year-old man holed up inside the house told deputies they had an argument and the man threatened to hurt her and himself. The man had been drinking. When deputies arrived on scene and tried to contact the suspect, the man threatened to kill the deputies. A few seconds later, shots were fired inside the house. Deputies immediately backed out of the house. Three other people inside the house got out safely. Deputies did not fire a shot, police said.
The Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Detail (SED/SWAT) responded and set up a perimeter.
Following the shooting, the Sheriff’s Communication Center notified homes within a one-mile radius of the suspect’s house to inform them to stay inside. They were also advised to close their windows and blinds. The suspect has a long rifle and has been shooting in all directions.
Both directions of Grandview Drive are closed. Please avoid the area if you can. The Sheriff's helicopter remains overhead to help deputies on the ground.