Deputies recovering after Lakeside shootout

LAKESIDE (CNS) – Two veteran Sheriff's Department members wounded in a
gun battle with an alleged child molester in Lakeside remained hospitalized
Wednesday following surgeries, as was the suspect, who was also shot.

Sgt. Craig Johnson and Detective Ali Perez were each struck with rounds
from a high-powered rifle shortly after arriving at an apartment complex at
12701 Mapleview St. around 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to a San Diego County
Sheriff's Department statement.

Johnson and Perez went to the apartment to investigate a woman's report
that her live-in boyfriend — later identified as 30-year-old Dan Witczak —
had molested one of her two young daughters. The alleged victim is not related
to Witczak.

Authorities said Johnson and Perez came under fire from inside the
apartment and returned fire. More deputies rushed to the scene and immediately
joined in the shootout, which lasted around 15 minutes, but no one other than
Johnson, Perez and Witczak was hurt in the exchange.

Witczak surrendered after suffering at least one gunshot wound,
according to sheriff's Capt. Duncan Fraser.

Medics took Johnson and Perez to Sharp Memorial Hospital in Linda Vista,
while Witczak was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest.

“We had two of our deputies shot today in the line of duty,” Sheriff
Bill Gore said in a statement. “It's a constant reminder of how dangerous this
job is that we do every day. There is cause for great concern, but we are
hopeful and cautiously optimistic that both deputies will make a full
recovery.”

Johnson is a 23-year veteran of the sheriff's department and currently
assigned to the Santee sheriff's substation, while Perez is with the
department's child abuse unit and an 18-year veteran.

The extent of Witczak's injury was not immediately released. His
girlfriend told reporters the events that led to the gunfire began about 7:30
a.m., when she allegedly found cell-phone photos of Witczak — an out-of-work
auto mechanic — performing lewd acts with her 6-year-old daughter.

“It's graphic pictures of him doing stuff with his body parts and her
body parts,” the mother told News 8.

She said she left their apartment and called the sheriff's department to
report the apparent molestation. Later in the morning, during a call being
monitored by investigators, the suspect allegedly admitted to the crimes,
claiming he had received an offer of $50,000 to post the pornographic images
online.

The woman said she was still on the phone with Witczak when the
detective and sergeant arrived at the couple's apartment and, a short time
later, shots rang out. She said Witczak then told her he had shot himself, and
she heard someone say, “Officers down.”

After the gunshots ended, the woman listened as he announced that he was
surrendering, she said.

A neighbor, Jodi Davis, told NBC San Diego at least 12 to 18 gunshots
had sounded in rapid succession.

Nearby El Capitan High School was placed on lockdown following the
shootout, said Catherine Martin, a spokeswoman for the Grossmont Union High
School District. The students were allowed to leave about an hour later.

Categories: KUSI