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Man Is Held in Slaying of Officer

June 14, 2003|Anna Gorman | Times Staff Writer

OCEANSIDE — A rookie police officer was fatally shot Friday afternoon by a gunman who raced off in the officer's squad car after a traffic stop, officials said.

The 27-year-old officer, who was shot three times, was flown to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido. He died about an hour after surgery. One of the shots struck him in the neck, police said.

"The entire department is shaken by this," said Oceanside Police Capt. David Heering. The officer, whose name was not released, had been on the force for 13 months and only recently had begun patrolling alone.

The suspect was identified as Adrian Camacho, who is in his mid-30s. Police said he is a gang member.

The incident began about 5 p.m. in front of the Navy Federal Credit Union, which was crowded with customers cashing their military paychecks. Outside, others were using the automated teller machine when the gunfire erupted.

"I saw the officer on the ground, bleeding," said Inma Rodriguez of Vista.

Monica Reynoso, 24, who was inside the building, said parents shielded their children and "everybody ducked for cover. We were all very scared."

The officer may have been shot with his own gun, officials said. His car was found several blocks away.

After the shooting, the suspected gunman fled into a nearby home, which was soon surrounded by the SWAT team. He surrendered after police negotiated with him for three hours by phone. He was taken to a hospital with unspecified injuries.

Police Capt. Reginald Grigsby said the suspect has a criminal history and is well known to local police.

After a 90-minute search, police learned that the suspect was holed up in a house not far from the credit union.

Police determined that he was alone in the home, which is reportedly owned by Camacho's family. Using a script prepared in advance for dealing with barricaded suspects, police contacted the man by telephone and began negotiations as SWAT officers aimed their weapons at the two-story house.

Oceanside, which has 177 police officers, is about 45 miles north of San Diego and best known as the home of Camp Pendleton.

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Times staff writer Tony Perry contributed to this report.

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