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SWAT officer from SDPD credited with saving lives of fallen deputies

September 26, 2012 (Lakseide)—San Diego Sheriff’s Department has identified the two deputies who were shot in the line of duty yesterday by a suspected child abuser.  The gun battle began at 12:17 yesterday at  apartment 72 at 12701 Mapleview Street. 

Sgt. Craig Johnson, a 23-year veteran of the  Santee Sheriff’s Station and Detective Ali Perez, an 18-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Child Abuse unit, both suffered gunshot wounds to the torso.  Following surgery at Sharp Memorial Hospital, Sgt. Johnson is in serious condition, while Detective Perez is in critical condition.

It's a constant reminder of how dangerous this job is that we do every day. There is cause for great concern, but we are hopeful and cautiously optimistic that both deputies will make a full recovery," Sheriff Gore said.  The Sheriff visited both wounded officers and their families today.

Both deputies were wearing bullet-proof vests when they attempted to arrest Daniel Witczak, 30, for suspected child abuse. Witczak opened fire on the deputies and he also sustained gunshot injuries during a 15-minute gun battle.   The Sheriff has not disclosed the extend of Witczak’s injuries, other than to confirm he is still alive and remains at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest.    

Numerous law enforcement units responded swiftly to the scene. Sheriff Gore extended appreciation to all who responded, particularly California Highway Patrol and San Diego Police officers who arrived during the gun battle. 

“We want to specifically mention a SWAT officer from SDPD who was driving by the scene,” the Sheriff’s release indicated, but did not name the officer.  “He was instrumental in the rescue of Sgt. Johnston and Det. Perez. The officer identified himself and helped formulate a plan to pull the deputies out of the gunfire and away from Witczak.”  He then participated in the physical rescue of both deputies and rendered first aid.

The violent incident prompted a brief lockdown of two nearby schools and displaced residents of the apartment unit, who were cared for at a shelter established by the Red Cross.

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