SAN DIEGO (AP) — A gunman in a rooftop apartment surrendered to police Wednesday after a more than five-hour standoff that interrupted air traffic at the San Diego airport.
The domestic violence suspect with a high-powered rifle shot off numerous rounds inside the apartment complex near the San Diego International Airport, prompting the Federal Aviation Administration to halt incoming flights for several hours as a precaution.
The suspect, identified as 33-year-old Titus Colbert, walked out of the complex after tossing “multiple weapons” out an apartment window, San Diego Police Lt. Scott Wahl told The Associated Press. He was taken into custody around 2:30 p.m. — hours after officers swarmed the building and exchanged gunfire with him, Wahl said. No injuries were reported.
Colbert does not live at the complex in the trendy Bankers Hill neighborhood near downtown, authorities said. No phone numbers were listed for him, and it was unclear if he has an attorney.
The complex is under the airport’s approach path, and planes swoop low near the neighborhood before landing.
Planes were allowed to depart from the airport, but many departures were still affected because of the lack of incoming flights. In the end, about 30 arriving and departing flights were cancelled and another 30 or so were diverted to other airports, said Ian Gregor with the Federal Aviation Administration.
After landings resumed in the mid-afternoon, airport spokeswoman Rebecca Bloomfield asked for patience while airlines worked to get schedules back on track.
The suspect opened fire on officers responding to a domestic violence call shortly after 9 a.m. at the complex, Wahl said. The shots came “within inches” of striking the officers approaching the rooftop apartment, where the alleged domestic violence victim lived, he said.
The officers returned fire as they retreated.
Authorities asked people in the area to stay inside and keep away from windows as they surrounded the building. Schools in the area were placed on lockdown.
Officers with assault rifles were seen running down the street, and gunshots were heard. Wahl said at one point the gunman was “shooting in all different directions.”
Tom Neu, who lives next door to the rooftop apartment, told reporters he was working at home on his computer when he heard a bang. He went to his balcony, saw a hole in the stucco wall that separates the two apartments, and called 911.
For about 40 minutes, he cowered in his bathtub, talking to friends and co-workers on his cellphone. He said it was terrifying.
“You’re thinking, ‘I might get shot and killed in my own bathtub,’” he said.
Neu heard numerous gunshots and loud booming before a SWAT team came to his unit. Police gave him instructions over the phone on where to walk inside the apartment, and rescuers led him downstairs.
Neu didn’t know the suspect but said the two exchanged greetings in passing.
Erik Carstensen was on a Southwest flight from Chicago that was diverted to an airport outside Los Angeles. Passengers were told there was a security problem at the airport, but people on the Internet soon spread the news of the gunman. Carstensen said his wife was at the airport at the time.
“I was a little worried for her until I learned he was not at the airport,” he said. “But it’s worrisome, the whole thing.”