SAN DIEGO (AP) — Two sheriff's deputies and a child abuse suspect were in intensive care units Wednesday, a day after all three were shot during a 15-minute gun battle in a rural community on the edge of San Diego.
Detective Ali Perez was listed in critical condition and Sgt. Craig Johnson was listed in serious condition at a San Diego hospital after undergoing surgeries, San Diego Sheriff's Department Cmdr. Tim Curran said. He declined to specify their injuries other than to say they sustained gunshot wounds to their upper bodies.
The two deputies were shot with a high-powered weapon Tuesday as they arrived at a Lakeside apartment to arrest 30-year-old Daniel Robert Witczak on allegations of child abuse, Curran said.
A team of deputies went to the complex after a woman alleged that Witczak had molested her children, Curran said. A gunbattle ensued as law enforcement officials rushed to rescue the fallen deputies.
Witczak surrendered after being shot by law enforcement, Curran said, discounting initial reports that the suspect had shot himself.
He was listed in critical condition Wednesday after also undergoing surgery, Scripps Health spokeswoman Janice Collins said. Witczak is not at the same hospital as the deputies.
Officials were still gathering evidence at the complex Wednesday and interviewing witnesses.
Curran said authorities examined Witczak's cellphone, but he wouldn't elaborate on the allegation against the suspect, saying he did not want to compromise the investigation. He said the girls remain with their mother.
U-T San Diego reported (http://bit.ly/RVqQrq ) Witczak's girlfriend had alleged that she found pornographic pictures of her two daughters, ages 6 and 8, on his cellphone.
The girlfriend told the newspaper she met with investigators and called Witczak with detectives listening in to confront him about the photos. Witczak told her he was offered $50,000 to post the images on the Internet.
The woman, who was not identified by the newspaper to protect her children's identities, said she heard deputies arrive at the apartment while she was on the phone. She said she heard gunshots and someone say, "Officers down."
Sheriff's Capt. Duncan Fraser said Perez and Johnson, who were wearing bulletproof vests, were outside the door when Witczak fired at them.
The deputies fired back and radioed for help. Law enforcement from several agencies rushed to the scene, including an off-duty San Diego police officer who was in the area and helped rescue the deputies, Curran said.
Sheriff Bill Gore visited the deputies at the hospital after their surgeries Tuesday night and again Wednesday.
Perez is an 18-year veteran and Johnson has been with the department for 23 years.
"We are hopeful and cautiously optimistic they will make a full recovery," Curran said Wednesday.
Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.