By Alberto Garcia
A local man who shot two San Diego Police officers, killing one of them, may spend the rest of his life in prison after a jury this week recommended a life sentence for his crimes.
Jesse Michael Gomez shot and killed officer Jonathan Matias “J.D.” De Guzman, 43, (pictured above) and shot and wounded officer Wade Irwin, 32, during a July 28, 2016 incident.
Gomez, 57, was convicted on September 13th of first-degree murder in the death of De Guzman with a special circumstance enhancement of killing a police officer, attempted murder for the shooting of Irwin, and a count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The jury’s penalty recommendation handed down this week must still be approved by the trial judge before becoming official. The judge could alter the final sentence. No court date has been set for the judge’s final sentencing decision.
Gomez shot the two Gang Suppression Unit officers late on the night of July 28, 2016, after he was spotted and followed by the officers while they patrolled a street in the Shelltown area of East San Diego.
Irwin testified that they followed Gomez in their police car and eventually confronted him. After Irwin exited the vehicle and asked Gomez if he lived in the area, Gomez turned and opened fire on Irwin, wounding him in the throat, before approaching the police car and shooting De Guzman five times.
Irwin, although wounded, returned fire and shot Gomez, who was running away from the scene. Gomez was found a short distance from the scene with wounds to his upper body.
Responding officers rushed De Guzman to a nearly hospital in the back of a patrol car in an attempt to save his life.
Gomez claimed that he thought the officers were actually gang members and that Irwin’s question about where he was from is a typical gang challenge. Gomez said he feared for his life and opened fire in self-defense.
De Guzman died at a hospital later that night, and Irwin spent nearly a month recovering from his bullet wound. De Guzman was a 16-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department and is survived by his wife and two young children.
In July 2018, the Palomar Street Bridge over the 805 in Chula Vista was renamed the Jonathan M. De Guzman Memorial Bridge in his honor. The bridge is near where the De Guzman family lives.