Local youth speak with counselors after witnessing officer-involved shooting incident
By Kristina Houck, City News Service
About 90 local youth talked to counselors Aug. 8 after witnessing an officer-involved shooting two days prior at Mission Bay Park.
Dozens of children and teens from the Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito’s La Colonia Branch were on a field trip at Mission Bay Park Aug. 6 when an apparently suicidal man was wounded around 11:30 a.m. after witnesses said he pointed a gun at police.
During the standoff, police asked Branch Manager Gloria Castellanos and her staff to hide the youth in a nearby restroom.
“A few kids heard the shots, but by the time the shots were happening, our kids were in the bathroom, so none of the kids saw it happening,” said Jarvis Albury, a supervisor at the La Colonia Branch and fitness coach at the Harper Branch in Solana Beach.
Lance Tamayo of San Diego called police from the 2800 block of North Mission Bay Drive shortly after 11 a.m. and told dispatchers he intended to shoot himself, said San Diego Police Department Sgt. Manuel Del Toro.
Patrol personnel arrived to find the 45-year-old sitting in his car in a parking area near De Anza Cove. They contacted him by phone and spoke with him for about 15 minutes before he agreed to surrender. Tamayo got out of the vehicle, but soon returned to it and retrieved a loaded 9mm pistol, Del Toro said.
Tamyo then “pointed his gun recklessly at various people in the park,” at a police helicopter circling overhead and at the nearby officers, prompting one of them to shoot him in the abdomen, Del Toro said.
The suspect fell to the ground, but his gun remained within reach and he continued failing to comply with the officers’ commands, Del Toro said. Finally, officers were able to subdue him with non-lethal rounds and take him into custody.
As of Aug. 7, Tamyo remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition, Del Toro said.
A total of 63 children, 32 teens and 15 adults — including staff and parents — from the La Colonia Branch huddled in the bathroom for 30 minutes to an hour during the standoff, Albury said. No one was injured during the incident, and the adults shielded the children, so they could not see what was happening.
“I’m incredibly proud of what we do,” said David Crean, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito. He noted staff has lockdown procedures and crisis management training.
“We spend time with our leadership team to explain what to do in an emergency situation like this,” Crean added. “Talking with some of the staff, they basically went into a lockdown procedure. They did remarkably well.”
Because police restricted the area, the group could not immediately leave after the incident.
Staff members at the Mission Bay RV Resort welcomed the youth, who had lunch at the resort’s community center and then had fun on kayaks and paddleboards.
“We barbecued all day,” said Albury, who noted the group didn’t head home until about 6 p.m. “We kept their minds occupied.”
Following the incident, Castellanos reached out to every family to assure them of their child’s safety. Crean reached out to Trauma Intervention Program of San Diego County, a nonprofit, volunteer organization that offers immediate emotional and practical support to victims and their families in the first few hours following a tragedy.
“Seeing someone wave a gun around at a police officer … it’s pretty traumatic,” Crean said. “It creates a lot of anxiety and stress.
“They need an ear lent to them so they can talk about what they saw or heard. Even if they didn’t see or hear anything, they saw Gloria, Jarvis and their staff hustle everybody into a small bathroom.”
Volunteers from TIP San Diego agreed to lend their ears. The specially trained volunteers visited the La Colonia Branch Aug. 8 to talk with the children, teens and adults who were on the scene.
“We are thankful for the support of the Mission Bay RV Resort and TIP San Diego,” Albury said. “It’s nice to see everybody in the community come together in a situation like this.”
For more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, visit bgcsandieguito.org.
For more information about TIP San Diego, visit www.tipsandiego.org.