Man arrested in Escondido shooting death ID'd: Michael Hemphill charged in death of Brandon Sanchez

Neighbors tell 10News rent dispute led to shooting

ESCONDIDO, Calif. - An Escondido man was in custody Thursday on suspicion of gunning down a property manager who was trying to collect rent from him, police said.

Michael James Hemphill, 55, allegedly shot 35-year-old Brandon Sanchez in the chest outside trailer in the 600 block of McDonald Lane in Escondido shortly before 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to Lt. Neal Griffin of the Escondido Police Department.

Hemphill led officers to a rear yard, where Sanchez was found with a single gunshot wound to the chest, Griffin said.

Efforts by officers and later paramedics to revive Sanchez were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Detectives questioned Hemphill, and then arrested him on suspicion of murder.

Neighbors and relatives of the victim told reporters the fatal gunfire occurred during an argument that erupted after Sanchez, an Escondido resident, confronted Hemphill over unpaid rent. The suspect said the shooting was an accident, 10News reported.

The suspect apparently confronted the victim as the latter was doing landscaping work at the property, where Hemphill rents backyard space for his older-model trailer, according to Griffin. Sanchez was acquainted with the owner and had done maintenance work and other odd jobs for her there at times, Griffin said.

Investigators believe Hemphill harbored resentment toward the victim, who lived with his parents in Escondido, for contacting him on prior occasions about unpaid rent and other concerns on behalf of the property owner, police reported.

The victim's father, Victor Sanchez, told 10News his son had a huge heart and was known to help others. He said Brandon was helping an elderly collect a rent payment because the suspect refused to pay.

"He's a very giving guy," Victor Sanchez said as he hung his head. "Very giving. He loved people a lot."

Court documents obtained by 10News revealed Hemphill may have made late payments in the past. 10News also learned a previous property manager took someone with the same name -- Michael Hemphill -- to court in 2009. Documents show that person was habitually late paying his $1,300 rent and was served a notice to pay up or get out.

"I just hope that he stays in prison the rest of his life," Victor Sanchez said. "I don't want him outside. He's got to be locked up."

Sanchez's sister told 10News her brother was a recovering addict and police want to know if that played a role.

"When you lose a son, man you're in shock," Victor Sanchez said.

Hemphill was being held in Vista Detention Center without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Monday afternoon.

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