San Diego police killing suspect seemed untroubled
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
SAN DIEGO (AP) — An occasional construction worker who left behind a two-page suicide note and is suspected of fatally shooting a police officer in the head showed no signs of mental struggles, family members said Monday.
Dejon Marquee White, 23, moved into a rented apartment about a year ago, living alone after about four years with roommates, said Larry Cowans, his uncle. He had just bought a used black Audi sedan.
Police killed White Saturday, minutes after San Diego police Officer Jeremy Henwood was shot in the head and another man was shot in the parking lot of an In-N-Out Burger restaurant.
Henwood, 36, was a four-year police veteran and Marine Corps Reserve captain who recently completed a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. He died early Sunday.
White flashed his headlights behind Henwood’s patrol car, as if seeking help, then pulled alongside the officer and shot him as their cars were stopped or nearly idle, police say.
San Diego police Capt. Jim Collins said Monday that White had no history of mental illness. He had a minor criminal history.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department issued an arrest warrant for him Friday for evading a public transportation fare. Bail was set at $1,156.
His probation on a theft conviction ended in 2009, said Tammy Glenn, a county spokeswoman.
“It was out of the blue,” Cowans, 22, said on the front steps of White’s boyhood home in San Diego’s City Heights area, where his family was gathered. “He was getting his life together.”
White and a younger brother and sister were raised by his mother, Cowans said. He graduated high school, moved out when he was 19 and worked construction jobs.
Cowans said he saw no signs of mental anguish in his nephew.
“Sometimes he was a little quiet, but next time you talked to him he seemed fine,” he said.
White’s mother said she was at work Saturday when she saw reports of the shooting on television, recognized the neighborhood and the black Audi and “just knew” her son was involved.
“I’m upset, I’m hurt, just a lot of emotions. I’m sad for the other families,” Tamica Berason told reporters outside her house. “I want to tell them I’m sorry. I apologize. My heart goes out to them.”
The Urban Corps of San Diego County, a nonprofit group that provides job training, said White had begun working with them in January removing fire brush and collecting recycled products.
He was making strides by applying to San Diego City College and interviewing for jobs, but stopped showing up for work in the last week and missed a forklift training course, according to Urban Corps.
“The events that transpired came as a total shock to all of us,” the group said in a statement.
Police have declined to discuss the suicide note in detail but said it gave no indication of how he planned to kill himself or why.
Gov. Jerry Brown expressed condolences Monday to Henwood’s family, friends and colleagues.
“We honor this brave officer’s service to his state and nation at home and on the battlefield,” he said.
Henwood, who grew up in the San Antonio area, served in the Marines for about 15 years and had just returned from Afghanistan in February, said Brian Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association.
Henwood is survived his parents, brother and sister. A memorial service was scheduled Friday in San Diego.
Police say White shot Martin Hanna in the head at the In-N-Out Burger in suburban El Cajon as the victim was sitting with his girlfriend in his vehicle in the parking lot. Investigators have not disclosed any relationship between White and Hanna, who was expected to survive.
Minutes later, an officer with no knowledge of that shooting spotted the Audi speeding and gave chase but abandoned the pursuit as it reached speeds of 100 mph. The attack on Henwood came shortly after that.
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