Hostage taking ends after San Diego officer shoots at suspect, police say

An armed man who broke into a Tierrasanta home and took a woman hostage was arrested Saturday after a police officer stationed on a neighboring roof tried to shoot him through a window, police said.

The officer fired after hearing the suspect shoot a round in the home, San Diego police Lt. Jud Campbell said. No one was injured by any of the shots.

The suspect, identified as 40-year-old Demetrius Trussell, reportedly tried to break into two other houses before entering the two-story residence on Viacha Drive near Rueda Drive just after 2 a.m., Campbell said.

The series of crimes began about 12:30 a.m., when a 911 caller reported that a man had tried to force his way into a house on Rueda Drive near Tierrasanta Boulevard. The victim described the burglar as fleeing in a white minivan, police said.

Officers arrived at the home but were unable to find the burglar or van.

About a half-hour later, police received another 911 call about a man trying to enter a house on La Cuenta Drive, north of Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. Officers were unable to find the prowler.

Then, about 2:15 a.m., the call came from the home on Viacha. A 53-year-old woman reported that someone was inside and that she and her elderly father had barricaded themselves in a second-story room, Campbell said.

“Hearing screams from inside the residence, officers forced entry and confronted the suspect,” Campbell said in a news release. “Ignoring officers’ commands to surrender, the suspect took the victim hostage at gunpoint and forced her into another bedroom. During the totality of this interaction, the suspect exposed himself and sexually battered the homeowner multiple times.”

The father was moved onto a balcony, where an officer protected him, Campbell said.

As officers tried to negotiate with the hostage-taker, he fired at least one round inside the room, the lieutenant said.

An officer crouches on the roof of a house after a suspect had taken a woman hostage next door in a home on Viacha Drive in San Diego early Saturday morning. The hostage was successfully rescued by the San Diego Police Department.


Meanwhile, another officer had climbed onto the roof of a neighbor’s home to get a view into the window. He fired at the suspect upon hearing the gunshot, Campbell said. Video captured by OnScene TV shows the officer firing about six rounds from a rifle.

The officer missed, but that prompted the suspect to drop to the floor, throw the gun away and surrender to police, Campbell said.

The residents were not wounded.

A white minivan, which had been stolen in an earlier carjacking, was found parked outside the home, police said.

Trussell was booked into jail on multiple charges, including hot prowl burglary, kidnapping, false imprisonment with a hostage, negligent discharge of a firearm, possession of a stolen vehicle, indecent exposure, assault with the intent to commit a sex crime, sexual battery, multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and a parole hold, police said.

A man by the same name was arrested in June 2018 on a misdemeanor trespassing citation after he was found in a training room on Naval Base San Diego, according to federal court records. He allegedly told a housekeeper who confronted him that he was hiding out because people were trying to kill him. He then fled up a stairwell and was found by military police in a trash closet.

“Subject was taken down at gunpoint due to the elevated demeanor and behavior” and arrested, the citation reads. He was then cited and released.

The man failed to show up for several court appearances. A warrant was issued for his arrest in the case in 2019.

Arrest records show San Diego police arrested Trussell in November on a charge of public intoxication. No further information was available.

The patrol officer who fired the rounds is an eight-year veteran of the police department assigned to the Eastern Division. His name was not released Saturday.

The shooting will be investigated for any criminal liability or violation of department policies.

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