Video released of Calif. shootout that wounded LEOs
The details of the June 2018 shootout at a college area condo were released Monday in a report from the DA's office
The San Diego Union-Tribune
SAN DIEGO — Moments after firefighters knocked down a San Diego man’s door last year, police Officer Dan Bihum heard what sounded like an explosion and was thrown on to his back.
Paralyzed for several seconds, Bihum — who had been shot through the shoulder — managed to roll on to his stomach and use his toes to inch himself away from the hail of gunfire that followed.
Officer Francisco Roman returned fire as he helped the slow-moving Bihum get down a hallway toward a window. Another officer — Shawn Boggeman — also returned fire, as Bihum kicked out a window and went out head-first. Roman was shot and wounded before following Bihum through the window.
The harrowing details of the June 2018 shootout at a College Area condominium were released Monday in a report from the District Attorney’s Office. Body-camera footage of the incident was also released.
The suspected shooter, 28-year-old Joe Darwish, was armed with a “homemade assault weapon and a homemade 9 mm semi-automatic pistol” and fired more than 20 rounds at officers, according to the report.
Although Darwish was struck in the arm and face by an officer’s shotgun blast, investigators with the Medical Examiner’s Officer determined he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He had marijuana in his system.
Investigators with the District Attorney’s Office determined the involved officers were justified in using deadly force “to defend against Darwish’s attempts to kill them and others,” officials said.
“It’s a tribute to these officers’ bravery and quick response that the gunman didn’t injure more people or kill the officers and firefighters involved,” San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said in a statement.
Both Bihum and Roman recovered from their injuries.
The shooting happened on June 23, 2018, at the Tuscany Place condos on Rolando Court north of El Cajon Boulevard. Officers were first sent there after someone called 911 to report a violent disturbance about 10:15 p.m.
Bihum, Roman and Boggeman spent about 20 minutes knocking on the door, identifying themselves as police officers, but got no response, according to the report. When they smelled smoke coming from the first-floor unit, they called San Diego firefighters for backup.
When the firefighters forced open the door, they were met by immediate gunfire, police have said.
Boggeman and Roman returned fire as the officers and firefighters moved away from the apartment to a window at the end of the hallway. The two firefighters and Boggeman squeezed through the window, while Roman stayed behind to help protect Bihum, who was injured. Boggeman later pushed a shield through the window, and as soon as Roman had it in place, Darwish opened fire again, according to the report.
Bihum managed to kick the window out, and he and Roman tumbled to safety.
Roman, who suffered gunshot wounds to the chin, neck and shoulder, fired his pistol 22 times. Boggeman fired his pistol 17 times and his shotgun twice.
Several nearby condominiums were damaged by bullets, but no neighbors were injured.
According to the District Attorney’s report, Roman went to the residence the week before the shooting to investigate a noise complaint, but no one answered the front door.
Residents in the complex knew Darwish as someone with a penchant for violent outbursts. He could often be heard screaming profanities and threats, throwing himself against walls and breaking things inside his home at all hours, prompting calls to police.
Court records and neighbor accounts indicate that Darwish had mental health and behavioral issues, but it’s unclear whether he had a specific diagnosis or whether he had been under treatment at the time of the shooting.
In the wake of the shooting, neighbors, lawyers and other who had come in contact with Darwish said they felt the system that is supposed to identify and assist those with mental illness seemed to have failed him.
©2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune