Off-duty guard shoots auto theft suspect in San Jose

August 21, 2013 12:02:52 PM PDT
Gunfire woke up a senior citizens complex in San Jose after an off-duty security guard confronted a suspected car thief -- who appeared to pull a weapon.

The stunned residents of the Le Mirador Senior Apartments on Coleman Road have never seen this kind of violence in their neighborhood. The off-duty guard is answering a lot of questions about why he shot the suspect.

The sign to the apartments says 'Welcome Home,' but there was an unwelcome noise for the residents at about 1:30 this morning -- gunfire.

"Bang, bang, bang, bang and then I waited to see if I was going to hear sirens," said Le Mirador resident Diana Santi.

Investigators say an off-duty security guard going to his dad's apartment spotted a man breaking into his dad's car. He told police he confronted the burglary suspect who jumped in a waiting car with three others before jumping back out and appearing to draw a weapon from his waistband -- that's when the off-duty security guard drew his gun and fired.

"If he felt that he was in fear for his safety or his life -- then he was probably well within his rights to go ahead and fire, but again we have to speak with him to determine what he was thinking at the time he discharged his firearm," said SJPD Spokesman Albert Morales.

The suspect got back in the car and it sped off. The vehicle was found close by -- abandoned in a residential area. Police say it was reported stolen. The burglary suspect was found a block away with at least one gunshot wound. He was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Officers did not find the three others.

Property theft crimes, like car break-ins, have skyrocketed in recent years in San Jose, but rarely is there such a violent confrontation.

"I'm afraid to leave (my vehicle) parked here," said Santi.

"So, it's happened quite frequently in the past?" asked ABC7's Matt Keller.

"Uh, huh -- because I'll see shattered glass and things -- so yeah, I'm looking for another place," said Santi.

Police say no weapon was found on the burglary suspect. As for the shooter, police are interviewing him and it will be up to the district attorney's office to determine if charges will be filed against him.


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