Officials say they will review their security plans for the Del Mar Racetrack after a man who was upset that he could not get tickets to a sold-out Ice Cube concert there pulled a gun and fired several shots before being shot himself by a San Diego County Sheriff’s deputy on Sept. 2.
Unlike at other high-attendance sports and entertainment events, there are no metal detectors at the Del Mar venue and attendees are not screened before entering a concert or a horse race. The attendance at the Del Mar racetrack on Sunday was the second-largest of the season, with about 30,800 people.
On whether Del Mar will consider using metal detectors in the future, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club CEO Joe Harper said, “We work with law enforcement about what they would like to see us do and how to handle it. Obviously, we’ll go back to the drawing boards with this thing happening and talk about it. We really rely on local law enforcement to tell us what they feel is necessary.”
The Sheriff’s Department said the decision on whether to screen visitors rests with the operators of the Del Mar Racetrack.
Sheriff’s officials said the suspect, who they identified Monday as 22-year-old Daniel Elizarraras of Escondido, had gone to a ticket window around 6:40 p.m., hoping to buy a ticket to the concert, and became upset when he was told none was available.
Witnesses reported hundreds of people walking to Del Mar as the races neared their conclusion, even though the concert was already sold out before the last race, Harper said. There were far more people coming in than could have been allowed into the concert, which was capped at about 18,000 people, according to Harper.
The shooting, which occurred just seconds after the final race of the day, created a chaotic scene at the venue. Elizarraras was transported to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla and the sheriff’s office said his condition is “stable and he is expected to survive.” The shooting is being investigated by the Sheriff’s Homicide Unit.
Videos posted on Twitter show a deputy pulling her gun and firing what sounded like four rounds after a man standing near an entrance gate is seen pointing a weapon in the air.
“Considering all of the circumstances that went down, we couldn’t have been luckier,” Harper said. “The deputy that was involved did an amazing job. It was obviously one of those split-second decisions, and it could have gone horribly wrong, and it didn’t. It went just right.”
The Sheriff’s Department said it is not releasing the deputy’s name at this time.
Ice Cube, a rapper and actor, weighed in on the shooting on Twitter the following day.
“I feel bad for the people who left the show, but I totally understand,” he tweeted on Monday. “Moral of the story: Come see ya homie Cube…but leave the strap at home.” Strap is slang for gun.
Other Twitter users said they were told the show at the Del Mar racetrack was cancelled, and that they could not get in after the shooting.
“...so disappointed to miss your show but was told the show was cancelled,” one Twitter user said. “...1 man ruined my bucket list show.”
“Couldn’t get back in after the mess,” said another fan on Twitter. “Missed the show. Bucket list isn’t over yet. Still gotta see you live.”
The shooting took place just after the 10th race. In a TVG broadcast of the race posted on Twitter, an announcer can be heard repeatedly saying, “There’s gunfire at the track,” as horses continued along the turf course after passing the finish line.
At 7:22 p.m., the Del Mar Racetrack tweeted that the “situation has been contained” and said the concert “is moving forward as planned.” By 8:30 p.m., the rap concert had begun.
Harper said there were no reported injuries before or after the shooting, other than the suspect who was shot.
Police scanner traffic indicated that one suspect was down and was being taken to the hospital and that no other suspects were being sought.
A witness said some concertgoers appeared to leave the arena in the aftermath of the shooting incident. They found a massive gridlock in the parking lot where gates were blocking exits.
Del Mar had invited fans who couldn’t get into the sold-out show to watch the concert on TVs throughout the track, including in the paddock area.
The sold-out show was part of the 2018 Del Mar Summer Concert Series. The concerts take place at the Seaside Stage, which is located near the west end of the racetrack’s Grandstand.
Del Mar officials said racing would proceed as scheduled on Monday, the last day of the summer season.
Tod Leonard and Kristen Taketa are San Diego Union-Tribune staff reporters. San Diego Union-Tribune staff reporters Andrew Dyer, Karen Kucher, Jay Posner and Joshua Emerson Smith contributed to this report.