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Eyewitnesses describe Vista shooting involving deputy, 77-year-old man

Eyewitnesses describe Vista shooting involving deputy, 77-year-old man
Posted at 6:22 PM, May 08, 2023

VISTA (KGTV) — A man held a gun to his head Sunday during a church service in Vista. The Sheriff’s Department says deputies arrived within minutes, but the encounter ended with shots fired.

“I heard some screaming outside. I thought it was a party, but the screams turned negative,” said Lealiki Sykes, an eyewitness.

Lealiki Sykes looked outside her window Sunday afternoon to see people running out of Iglesia Ni Cristo Church in Vista.

“I heard a lot of 'No, don’t do it,'” Sykes said.

Sykes lives in an apartment complex near the church. She watched in shock alongside parishioners as a 77-year-old man stood in the parking lot holding a gun to his head.

“I think a lot of people were frozen, just sitting there, standing there," Sykes said. "I saw a lot of moms holding their babies, not sure what to do."

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department says the man’s family called deputies to the scene. They arrived in minutes.

“They were constantly telling him repeatedly to drop the gun," said Terrel, another eyewitness. "He wouldn’t, he was just waving it, saying he was going to shoot himself.”

Terrel watched the scene unfold while inside that same apartment complex.

“Everyone was screaming and crying. He put the gun to his head, and then they shot him," she said.

The Sheriff’s Department says a deputy shot the man once in the leg. He’s now in the hospital, and although his physical condition is improving, people nearby are concerned for his mental health.

“For him to want to do it at a church, I can’t get my mind around that," Terrel said. "Whatevers he’s going through, you gotta say something.”

“He wasn’t intending to hurt anybody else," Sykes said. "I definitely have had a hard time sleeping, and for me, my reaction is, just love more, love people more.”