By Sandra Chase
City News ServiceA San Diego police officer, surprised by a shotgun blast from a car at a City Heights intersection, died Sunday at Scripps Mercy Hospital, Chief William Lansdowne said.
Officer Jeremy Henwood, 36, a four-year veteran on the police force, died at 1:42 a.m. at Scripps Mercy Hospital, the chief said at an afternoon news conference.
The alleged shooter, Dejon Marquee White, 23, had left a suicide note in his apartment before he went to an El Cajon restaurant and shot a man in his face. That started a bloody rampage that ended when police shot and killed White as the patrolman he had mortally wounded was arriving at the hospital, police said.
An intensive search for an alleged second man believed to be inside the car was fruitless, and Lansdowne Sunday said White is believed to have acted
“Today is a difficult day for all people who serve in San Diego’s finest,’' the chief said.
Capt Jim Collins said “the series of events is believed to have started at an In-N-Out Burger on North Magnolia Avenue in the unincorporated area of El Cajon at 5:22 p.m yesterday, In that incident, a male was shot in the face as he sat in his vehicle in the parking lot.’'
That man was identified by the San Diego County sheriff’s office as Martin Hanna, and deputies said he is expected to recover.
The suspect fled the scene in a black Audi with paper temporary dealer plates.
At 5:25 p.m., an El Cajon police officer who was unaware of the shooting at In-N-Out saw a black Audi speeding west on Interstate 8 in El Cajon. The officer attempted to stop the vehicle for the traffic violation, but broke off when the Audi sped above 100 miles per hour and its driver showed erratic driving behavior.
At 5:29 p.m., a possible link was made between the shooting and speeding Audi was established and an ''all units’’ broadcast was made to county law enforcement agencies, Collins said. The suspect vehicle was last seen heading south from Mission Valley on Interstate 15.
At 5:32 p.m., a female civilian used a police radio to advise a San Diego police officer had been shot at University Avenue at 45th Street. Civilians gave first-aid to the officer until they were relieved by officers.
According to witnesses, the Audi pulled up on the left side of the officer’s vehicle, and someone pointed a gun out of the passenger window and fired at Henwood.
About 6 p.m. police found a vehicle matching the description outside some apartments in the 4000 block of 48th St. Collins said a spotter in a police helicopter directed ground units to the 48th St. address as the suspect with the shotgun got back into the Audi. Police blocked the street in an attempt to stop the car, but the suspect allegedly grabbed the shotgun and was fired upon by multiple officers.
A police officer shot and killed the suspect. After the shooting, the Audi rolled backward into a wrought iron fence. The man inside, later identified as White, was declared dead on the spot.
“A suicide note was found in the suspect’s apartment, but there was no mention of what he would do. No motive is known at this time,’' Collins said.
The chief said the fallen policeman “believed he was a protector and had a responsibility to help others. This department is judged by how we manage situations like this.
“I know in my heart this organization operates as safely as we can. These men and women will give their lives to protect your safety, an idea exemplified today,’' Lansdowne said.
Henwood was a Marine reservist who had served three tours of duty overseas, the chief said.
Word of Henwood’s death and his identity spread on the Internet in the early morning hours, publicly identifying the slain officer before San Diego police could notify next of kin and confirm events. That forced the department to deny the reports until the death could be formally announced.
Henwood was the second San Diego police officer to die within 10 months. On Oct. 28 in the Skyline district, Officer Chris Wilson, 50, was fatally shot in a probation raid.