Authorities release name of man shot and killed during vehicle break-in in El Cajon

EL CAJON (KUSI) — Authorities Tuesday publicly identified a suspected car burglar who was fatally shot last weekend by a resident in a neighborhood near Mount Helix.

Joseph Mercurio, 31, allegedly was breaking into a vehicle in the 1100 block of Mona Place in El Cajon when the owner spotted him shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, according to police. During an ensuing confrontation, the homeowner shot Mercurio with a .357-caliber revolver, Sgt. Darrin Forster.

The mortally wounded suspect got into another vehicle and drove off, fleeing for a short distance before crashing the car into a residential front yard in the 1000 block of West Chase Avenue. Medics pronounced him dead at the scene.

The resident, whose name has not been released, told investigators he had spotted Mercurio breaking into his vehicle after being alerted to the alleged crime in progress by his barking dogs.

“Homicide investigators have since learned … (that) Mercurio was driving a stolen vehicle and had been involved in at least two vehicle burglaries the night of this incident,” Forster alleged.

It was unclear if the homeowner might face criminal charges over the shooting. The case remained under investigation this afternoon, the sergeant said.

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