A relentless shooter armed with a high-powered rifle terrorized a San Diego neighborhood Wednesday, opening fire on police officers and bringing air traffic to a halt before ultimately being taken into police custody.
SDPD officers were called to 2445 Brant Street in the Bankers Hill area just after 9 a.m. PST for a domestic violence call. A woman told SDPD she was not home when the suspect, identified by police as 33-year-old Titus Colbert, called her to say he was inside the unit.
When officers arrived, they immediately came under fire, according to police.
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"The residents were telling us that it just nearly missed him," said San Diego police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. "And officers who were setting up the perimeter were hearing rounds that were going right past them."
Near Front and Laurel Street, an NBC 7 news crew arrived to cover the story at 9:30 a.m. PST, heard multiple rounds of gunfire and was immediately told to take cover. Officers sheltered behind patrol cars, and the news crew stepped behind a building.
The threat to the community was so great, San Diego police shut down traffic on the ground and ordered residents to shelter in place. At the same time, The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop for arrivals into San Diego International Airport, located less than two miles away.
Throughout the day, the suspect fired random shots in the approach path used by pilots landing passenger aircraft at Lindbergh Field. It's "hard to speculate" how many rounds were fired, SDPD Lt. Scott Wahl said, and police didn't have a precise count by 7 p.m. There were no known injuries.
Colbert was holed up in a one-bedroom apartment on the southeast side of the building, Wahl said. A five-hour standoff ensued, and police deployed gas several times. Video obtained by NBC 7 shows SWAT crews deploying a robot outside the apartment complex.
"They were able to use a K-9 to try and clear the apartment. At some point when they were inside the apartment, rounds began to come out of a door, an interior door, nearly hitting the officers," SDPD Lt. Scott Wahl said.
Colbert finally surrendered around 2:35 p.m. PST. According to court records, Colbert is a documented gang member with a criminal record.
"We gave him, for a long time, very methodical instructions to make sure he throws the weapon outside that he does not come out with any weapons," Zimmerman said. "It did take several hours but eventually he did throw the weapons outside and he did peacefully surrender and he was taken into custody."
Colbert will be booked into County Jail on charges including attempted murder of a peace officer and possession of an assault rifle, according to a police statement.
When police entered the apartment after the standoff, they said they found two weapons similar to AK-47s and another handgun.
"We know of two guns," said Zimmerman. "One was a hand gun, another one was what looked like to be an AK-47 type weapon. Once we are able to uncover the weapon during the investigation we’ll be able to determine what type of weapon it was. Once we search the residence, we’ll again, be able to determine if there’s any other weapons inside."
Curlew, Brant, Albatross, and Front Streets were closed between Laurel and W Ivy Streets during the lengthy incident, according to San Diego Police.
Washington Elementary School on State Street was on lockdown as a precaution, district officials. As of 1 p.m., district officials said school was ending for the day as part of a regular minimum day.
The Museum School on Maple Street was also told to shelter in place, according to school officials. Faculty said all students on campus were safe.
Check back for updates on this developing story. Download the free NBC 7 app for updates.