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Sheriff's vehicle
A San Diego Sheriff’s vehicle. Photo by Alexander Nguyen

 Authorities Wednesday publicly identified a man who was fatally shot by San Diego Police Department officers last week after allegedly asking them to end his life and refusing to drop the gun he was carrying during a confrontation in a Teralta West-area neighborhood.

John Ray Romero, 58, died Thursday at the scene of the law enforcement shooting in the 4000 block of 42nd Street, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, which investigates shootings involving SDPD personnel.

The events that led to the deadly gunfire began shortly before 1 p.m., when a 911 caller reported seeing Romero riding a bicycle in the 4200 block of Central Avenue while pointing a gun at his own head.

As arriving patrol officers approached Romero, he ran off into a nearby access road, sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Ralph said.

“In the alleyway, (Romero) put the gun to his head and asked the officers to shoot him,” Ralph said. “The officers did not, and (he) fled on foot northbound through the alley.”

When the personnel caught up with Romero in the driveway of a nearby home, he again refused to drop his handgun, according to Ralph. One of the officers then discharged a beanbag shotgun, knocking Romero to the ground.

When Romero got up, still holding the gun, SDPD Officers Gregory Bergman, Jonathan Estrada and Michael Thornton opened fire, killing him, the sheriff’s department said.

Whether Romero fired his gun or pointed it at the officers during the encounter remained unclear Wednesday.

Bergman and Thornton have been employed with the San Diego Police Department for about two years, and Estrada for three. As is standard protocol in cases of officer-involved shootings, they will serve desk duty until cleared to return to full service, according to the sheriff’s department.

–City News Service

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Ellen Bullock