UPDATED 1:53 PM PT – Tuesday, July 20, 2021
A man has been gunned down outside a bar in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. San Diego Police Department Homicide Unit detectives’ said Monday morning’s fatal shooting erupted from an altercation between two groups.
The victim, an innocent bystander, was 26-year old Jose Jonathan Garcia. Known to family and friends as Johnny, he has been described as a celebrity tattoo artist and painter. Garcia was the creative director for Shroomie Clothing Company and helped transform it when the pandemic hit by using his talents to provide protective masks to the community.
“I heard four gunshots, everybody started running. I saw a guy fall on the ground,” witness Austin Arroyo explained. “I started running toward him. When I got up there he had a gunshot wound through his neck.”
The fatal incident occurred less than 10 minutes after a drive-by shooting just blocks away. No injuries were reported in the separate incident and two individuals have been taken into custody.
Gun violence is a major public health problem, and we must fight to end this violence in our communities. The tragic shooting that occurred in the Gaslamp Quarter earlier this year was senseless and should never have happened. pic.twitter.com/bgnmmcPSva
— Councilmember Stephen Whitburn (@CMWhitburnD3) July 15, 2021
The deadly night of shootings comes after the San Diego Police increased the number of officers patrolling the Gaslamp Quarter in recent weeks due to an uptick in violence.
A mass shooting occurred on April 22, which resulted in one death and at least four injuries. The rash of violent crimes has people who live, work and dine downtown worried.
“I don’t feel safe here anymore,” local resident Sia Hodjeatae expressed. “Even though living in L.A. was rough, but here it’s been really getting out of hand in the past many many months.”
Today @ChiefNisleit and @CityAttorneySD welcomed @AGRobBonta for a Gun Violence Prevention Roundtable. SD’s Gun Violence Restraining Order program, one of the first in the state, has already removed over 1,000 firearms from those who pose a threat to themselves or others. pic.twitter.com/1xUgmDtOQB
— San Diego Police Department (@SanDiegoPD) July 13, 2021
San Diego Police reported gang-related homicides, assaults with deadly weapons and drive-by shootings have nearly tripled since last year.
“We’ve seen just a huge escalation in gun violence,” San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit stated. “A 129% increase.”
The spike in violent crimes have residents calling on officials to take action.
“I think city of San Diego needs to step up. They need to step up and take care of their citizens,” Hodjeatae asserted. “They collect all the taxes. My property tax just keeps going higher and higher. They need to step up.”
In response, the city of San Diego launched the Violence Reduction Plan last week in conjunction with a new so-called Ghost Gun Team to proactively investigate who has been behind these violent crimes and stop them before they occur. So-called ghost guns can be purchased online at 80 percent complete and manufactured at home without a serial number or registration.
SDPD is taking action to reduce violence in our communities. Today we announced a Violence Reduction Plan, as well as, a new Ghost Gun Team to investigate the unlawful sales and manufacturing of unserialized guns. Remember, if you see something, say something! pic.twitter.com/KKEvQIGdAZ
— San Diego Police Department (@SanDiegoPD) July 14, 2021
For members of the Ghost Gun Team, this has made untraceable guns accessible to people who would not pass a background check and would otherwise be prohibited from legally owning firearms.
“They will work this case backwards to try to find out where and who are selling these,” Nisleit explained. “With collaboration with our local and state partners we will arrest and seek prosecution to the max extent.”
The specialized firearm unit has already recovered more ghost guns in the first half of this year than it did in all of 2020. However, a San Diego spokesperson has called on the public to make changes of its own.