SAN DIEGO - A 34-year-old man wanted on drug charges allegedly rammed an SUV into a U.S. Marshals Service vehicle in Clairemont Wednesday, and was wounded when the two law enforcement officers opened fire.
The shooting in the 4800 block of Coconino Way was reported about 12:30 p.m., according to San Diego police.
The deputy marshals, both assigned to the San Diego Fugitive Task Force, were conducting surveillance at an address in the area when the fugitive they were looking for, Nicholas Pratl, arrived in a Mercedes-Benz SUV and parked in his driveway, said Omar Castillo of the U.S. Marshals Service.
The deputy marshals then approached the suspect, who was wanted on a warrant alleging possession of a controlled substance for sale, and attempted to arrest him. But Pratl allegedly rammed one of the law enforcement vehicles repeatedly, at which point the deputy marshals opened fire, Castillo said.
San Diego police homicide Capt. Terry McManus told reporters that the suspect drove toward the lawmen who, "fearing for their lives, removed their service weapons and fired into the vehicle, striking the suspect a number of times."
Several neighbors heard the commotion and ran outside. Some had cellphone cameras at the ready.
Neighbor Timothy Reathaford told 10News, "All of a sudden, I heard two successive rapid gunfires… 'pop, pop, pop, pop'… then about five or six seconds later, I heard 'pop, pop, pop' again."
His wife, Janet added, "I was standing in the living room and heard 'pop, pop, pop, pop' and I said, 'That's gunfire. That's not fireworks."
Shani Rudick heard it too. "I heard like six gunshots, looked out the window and saw the neighbors freaking out so I ran outside."
Stewart Jones was on his bicycle in an alleyway.
"I heard a pop," Jones said. "You knew it was gunshots… then, I fell off my bike and got up and took off because I didn't know which way the bullets were flying."
The suspect then lost control of the SUV, which rammed a parked car and crashed into an unoccupied house.
Neighbor Joe Hammer was studying in his home.
"I heard a couple of shots and a crash and then I heard a couple more shots and some yelling 'not to move,'" he said. "The yellow car that was hit… it looks like my car's totaled. Looks like they hit my car and then the other car went into the house."
The wounded man was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, but a condition report was not available early Wednesday evening.
Both deputy marshals were taken to a hospital to be treated for minor injuries, Castillo said.
10News learned Pratl is being held on $250,000 bail.