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La Jolla gunman was 'relaxing and shooting people' poolside

Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman approaches crime scene where a gunman shot eight people, one fatally.
Photo credit:
Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune

A gunman who appeared relaxed, opened fire at a birthday pool party in a La Jolla apartment complex last night, killing one person and injuring several others reports San Diego police.

The suspect was identified as Peter Selis, 49, a man who suffered crushing debt according to a report from the San Diego Union Tribune.

 San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said, "There were eight victims that were transported and four of the victims were African-American females who were suffering from gunshot wounds that were taken to area hospitals, two African-American males were taken to an area hospital suffering from gunshot wounds, one Hispanic male suffering from a gunshot wound taken to an area hospital and then one African-American male fleeing the area broke his arm when he was fleeing the gunfire."

According to police Selis, who reportedly lived in the complex, used a semi-automatic pistol on the party-goers and police are not sure of his motive or even if he knew any of the victims.

Witness Drew Phillips said he was attending the party for his friend who went up to Selis and offered him food and drink. Selis declined but remained in his chair.

“Six or seven minutes later it’s just pow, pow, pow, pow — out of nowhere,” Phillips said. “...There was no indication that he was there to do evil.”

Once Selis opened fire everyone scattered. In the mayhem one man fell and broke his arm. There were at least 30 people attending the party; one lived in the complex.

Phillips told the Tribune that he saw an injured man he had only met a few minutes earlier and hopped the fence to help him.

“He was just laying there, and just the look in his eyes — sheer terror,” Phillips said. “I threw my phone down. I just picked him up and I just carried him. I basically ran as fast as I could with him in my arms.”

Shahrayar Jeff, a party attendee, and grandfather of two children ages 3 and 8, said the kids were with their grandmother and nanny at the time of the shooting, but they managed to escape without injury.

He said Selis was, “relaxing and shooting people.”

Not too far away in a hot tub, two college students were petrified and couldn’t move right away.

“You can either leave or you can stay here and die,” one heard the shooter say.

Chief Zimmerman said their aerial unit arrived on the scene before the ground crew and saw Selis reloading his weapon before aiming it at police. That's when law enforcement opened fire, killing the suspect. 

Victims were rushed to the hospital where they remain in critical condition reports the Tribune.

“Our hearts go out to all the victims, their families and anyone who witnessed this tragic event,” the Chief Zimmerman said.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer gave a press conference late Sunday night calling the act “horrific.”

“We stand united as a city to reject this senseless violence,” he told reporters.

Officials are not clear of the motive at this time, an investigation is currently under way. 

Read the full story from the San Diego Union Tribune HERE

See also: Multiple injuries reported in Sunday night La Jolla shooting