SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Approximately 200 California Army National Guard troops are in San Diego County at the request of San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore, to deter looting following last weekend's events in La Mesa.
About 100 troops are stationed at the La Mesa Police Headquarters. The rest are in an undisclosed area ready to move anywhere in the county.
“We’ve seen arson, we’ve seen looting, and especially in La Mesa where we were there assisting La Mesa Police Department,” said Gore. “To be quite honest, the crowd overwhelmed us, we had not enough resources there, and we were in a position of defending the La Mesa Police Department, so it didn’t get burned to the ground like two banks did.”
After a chaotic scene unfolded in La Mesa on Saturday following a peaceful demonstration, several businesses were looted and damaged, two banks burned down, and La Mesa City Hall sustained fire damage.
“I believe that the police were overwhelmed in La Mesa, and they need backup,” said La Mesa resident Teresa Olmsted. “There’s those that are trying to get their point across and those that are taking advantage.”
Gore said the troops do not have the same authority as officers and cannot make an arrest, but they can detain suspects until officers arrive.
They will guard businesses and buildings where needed.
“They do not have peace officer powers. So they will be there to protect infrastructure, they can escort ambulances and fire engines if they need to get into a particular scene to put out a fire or render aid to somebody,” he said. “The enforcement actions will be left to police officers. Peace officers in the state of California, whether it’s La Mesa, Sheriffs Department, or our allied agencies that have come together to provide good police services.”