Forty-nine-year-old Peter Selis opened fire Sunday at a La Jolla Crossroads apartment complex pool area, where several adults were attending a birthday party. One woman, Monique Clark, was killed and seven other people were wounded, San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said.
Police arrived at the scene located at the 9000 block of Judicial Drive just past 6 p.m. after receiving numerous reports of a white man wearing brown shorts armed with a gun. A helicopter was first to arrive and authorities saw a shooter near the pool appearing to reload a weapon. After moving to the pool area, three officers fatally shot Selis after he pointed his weapon, a large caliber handgun, at the officers.
Eight victims sustained various injuries. Seven people were hit by gunfire: four African American women, two African American men, and one Hispanic man, Thomas Blea. The eighth victim, an African American man, broke his arm while fleeing the scene.
Rikky Galiendes, a UCSD senior, said that he saw the gathering at the pool before the shooting started and it had appeared to be a normal birthday party, with people barbecuing. He did not see the shooter interact with the victims, until he heard the gunshots while in an apartment upstairs.
“The people [at the party] were mostly Black. Probably 90% of them,” Galiendes said, speculating that the shooting may have been racially motivated. He said that all four of the wounded people he personally saw were Black, but noted that more people were injured and ran away.
The investigation by the San Diego Police Department found that in the days preceding the shooting Selis had broken up with his girlfriend, and his family members described him as “distraught and depressed,” said Zimmerman in a press conference on Monday morning.
The investigation found that Selis called his ex girlfriend after shooting the first two victims.
“Selis stayed on the phone, talking to his ex girlfriend as he continued to fire his weapon. It is apparent that Selis wanted his ex girlfriend to listen in as he carried out his rampage,” said Zimmerman. “There is zero information to indicate that race played a role in this terrible and horrific crime.”
However, this assertion by the police has been disputed.
Michael Benjamin, a UCSD student who was nearby at the time of the shooting, said he ran into a witness who claimed that Selis warned the white people in the pool area to leave before he started shooting the Black party-goers.
“I also got word from different witness that a white girl with blond hair was at the scene and tried to help someone and the shooter instructed her to stop and leave if she didn’t want to die,” Benjamin said. Kaela Wong, a 20-year old UCSD student who was present at the pool, affirmed that Selis did prevent a woman from helping one of the wounded people.
Wong said she heard Selis say to the woman, “You can either leave or you can stay here and die.”
The one fatality, Monique Clark, was a 35-year-old woman with three children. Her mother, Michelle Fuget, has set up a GoFundMe to raise money for funeral and memorial expenses.
Selis and at least one of the party attendees lived at the complex.
According to FOX 5, one witness said he saw three people lying on the sidewalk after being shot and two other bloody people, one crawling to the other trying to help. He described the shooter as sitting, holding a beer in one hand and a gun in the other.
“The suspect looked pretty relaxed, pretty relaxed,” said the witness. Selis pointed his gun at the police when they arrived, and three officers shot him to bring him down.
It is not yet known whether any of the victims were UCSD students, but many students live in that apartment complex and were shaken by the experience.
“I was really shaken,” said Mary Lavibashvili, a UCSD student who lives in the complex. “I was pulling into the loop on Judicial and Golden Haven around 6:10, at which point, the shooter was still shooting.” She just caught a glimpse of the shooter, saw people fleeing, and heard people in the street yell to leave the area. She drove away as quickly as possible. “I wish I could’ve done more,” she added. “I didn’t know what to do.
“I’m speechless. My mind’s all over the place,” said Miguel Ángel Tapía, a resident of La Jolla Crossroads and student at UCSD. “[I saw] someone hopping on one leg, like they were shot in the leg. We were tapping on windows to tell people that there was an active shooter and they should get away from the street. I called the police three times and they didn’t answer.” Police reported getting a large volume of calls at the time the shooting started. Tapía noted that they’d heard gunshots back home in Bakersfield, “but not like this.”
Selis filed for bankruptcy in 2015, The LA Times reported. On a petition filed in the Southern District of California Bankruptcy Court, he listed his occupation as car mechanic at a San Diego Ford dealership.
On the website of the Mossy Ford Dealership located on Mission Bay Drive, “Pete” Selis is listed as a service technician. When asked for comment, a representative of the dealership said “we were advised not to issue any statement, and as Mossy, we will not be issuing a statement.”
GoFundMe fundraising efforts for the medical expenses of victims have been set up.
This is a developing story – please refresh for updates.
Story by Shine Cho and Jaz Twersky. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have relevant tips or information, or directly message our Facebook page.
Apr. 30, 3:15 a.m.: This article was updated with information on the injuries victims sustained. The LA Times report of Selis’ bankruptcy filing and position at the car dealership were also added.
Apr. 30, 9:00 a.m.: This article was updated with the car dealership’s response and the perspectives of some student witnesses.
May 1, 12:16 p.m.: This article was updated to include information from SDPD’s press conference on Monday morning regarding the suspect’s motives.