A car mechanic casually held a beer in one hand while shooting seven people – almost all non-whites – at a San Diego-area apartment complex pool.
An eighth man was injured as he fled the scene, and a ninth victim was shot at but not struck.
The mass shooter, who was shot to death by police, was identified as Peter Selis, 49, a white man who lived in the luxury apartment complex. Witnesses said he smirked as he calmly shot people after being invited to join the pool party. He was a service technician at a San Diego-area Ford car dealer whose life was crumbling under financial stress and a mountain of credit card debt. The Daily Beast reports the shooter – upset about a breakup with a girlfriend – told her he would go down “in a blaze of glory.”
According to police, the victims included three African-American females, one white female, two African-American males, one Hispanic male, and an African-American-male who broke his arm fleeing. The woman who was shot at but not struck was identified as a Hispanic female. Police initially misidentified the Caucasian female as African-American. Police have not yet labeled the mass shooting a hate crime, however, as they say Selis was “despondent” over a relationship break-up. That’s even though one witness said Selis spared a white victim.
Several of the victims were reportedly in critical condition after the April 30 shooting at the University City apartment complex, according to Fox 5 San Diego. It was later reported that one victim, a female, has died. Family members identified her as Monique Clark.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Selis Reloaded His Gun in the Pool Area While Holding a Beer & a Witness Described the Shootings as ‘Cold Blooded’
Witnesses described a “relaxed” looking gunman who clutched a beer in one hand while opening fire at multiple people with another. When he wasn’t spraying people with gunfire, he was saying to others “You can either leave or you can stay here and die,” reported the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Selis “was reportedly drinking a beer during the gunfire according to a witness who spoke to CBS News 8,” that television station reported. NBC7 interviewed a witness who said, “there’s a view of the pool area where we could see the shooter sitting there with a beer in one hand and the gun in the other. He looked pretty relaxed.”
Just that morning, Selis had taken his two daughters to breakfast and acted normal, reports The Daily Beast.
David Phillips told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the shooting erupted at his best friend’s birthday party and as he was returning from the bathroom. “He said he immediately got on the ground. His best friend was among those shot,” the newspaper reported, quoting Phillips as saying, “It was like the Twilight Zone. I really can’t explain what happened.”
Shahrayar Jeff told the newspaper that his “8-year-old granddaughter told him the man was sitting and drinking a beer and ‘relaxing and shooting,'” and Jeff labeled the mass shooting “very cold blooded” to the Union Tribune.
The suspect was “reloading his gun in the pool area,” a 911 dispatcher says in the initial audio from the scene. “People down.” The suspect was initially described in the dispatch audio as a white male, age 40. The shooting occurred at La Jolla Crossroads Apartments.
A witness told FOX 5 “he saw three people had been shot on a sidewalk at the apartment complex. He ran into the clubhouse and looked out the windows. He saw two other bloody people and one of them was crawling to the other trying to help.”
“We looked at the pool area where the shooter was sitting there with a beer in one hand and a gun in the other,” the witness said, according to FOX 5. “The suspect looked pretty relaxed, pretty relaxed.”
The police chief, Shelley Zimmerman, said in a press conference, that, shortly after 6 p.m. on April 30, “our communications division received numerous calls that several people had been shot in the pool area. The helicopter arrived on scene and saw that there were numerous victims in the pool area.”
She called the shooting spree a “spontaneous act of violence.”
2. The Shooter Targeted Only Non-White Victims & He Opened Fire at Police Too
The dispatch audio said that a 911 caller heard multiple gunshots and then people started screaming. Initial reports said two were shot, but the injury count increased.
It was later revealed that the gunman had shot all non-white victims, although the motive is under investigation.
According to the police chief, eight people were transported to the hospital. They were: four African- American females, all shot; two African-American males; 1 Hispanic male; and 1 African-American male who broke his arm “fleeing the gunfire.” That account was later changed to correct the fact that one of the females was in fact Caucasian and that a nine person was shot at but not hit.
“It is with extremely sad heart that we report that one of the females has passed away,” the chief said.
Police, though, are stopping short of labeling the mass shooting a hate crime, and they say it’s not yet clear whether Selis knew any of the victims. “We have zero information that this was racially motivated,” the chief said on May 1.
Police shot the gunman to death when he started firing in their direction.
“The suspect pointed the gun at our officers and three of our officers fired on the suspect and the suspect went down and the suspect is deceased,” San Diego Police chief Shelley Zimmerman said in a news conference.
The chief said a police helicopter pilot saw the suspect was still in the pool area and was armed with a handgun.
Three officers arrived, and the “suspect was reloading and shooting into the party goers for this pool party. The sergeant and two officers went to the pool area, confronted the suspect, who was still armed,” Zimmerman said. She said officers then shot and killed Selis.
Police now say the shooter and his girlfriend had broken up a few days before the shooting spree and a despondent Selis “even called the girlfriend on his cell phone during the bloodshed because he wanted her to ‘listen in’ and be a part of the senseless violence,” reported The New York Daily News.
3. The Shooter, a Car Mechanic, Had Filed for Bankruptcy & Had a Series of Marriages
Selis’ court history shows that he was collapsing under the weight of financial problems, including a mountain of credit card debt. However, he had no past known criminal record. The Daily Beast reports he had troubles with alcohol and gambling.
San Diego court records show a legal separation with minor children in the marriage of Peter Selis and his wife, Michelle Selis, that dates to 2008. There is a 2013 wedding registry at Macy’s for Peter Selis and a woman named Patricia Martinez. Her Facebook page does not carry any mention of him, however. Peter Selis’ own Facebook page appears to have been deleted.
Peter Selis also had a 1998 family court case from Idaho labeled “reciprocal support family law.”
A 2015 Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing exists in the name of Peter Raymond Selis and lists as a joint debtor, his spouse, Patricia Martinez. The filing listed assets of $14,100 and liabilities of $108,028. See:
The current monthly income of the debtors was listed as $4,496 and expenses at $3,896. The filing says Selis owed $10,200 in taxes and other debts owed to governmental units. Household goods and furnishings were described as “usual and customary nothing over $400.” A 2013 Ford Escape was listed that was worth $12,000.
There was also a listing of an “estimated sales tax liability of estranged wife.” The debts included a series of credit cards and health expenses such as “collection attorney radiology medical group.”
The bankruptcy filing said Peter Selis worked as a “car mechanic” for Mossy Ford, Inc. in San Diego and had been employed there for five years. The 2015 filing said he had, at that time, a 12-year-old daughter, 16-year-old son, and 19-year-old stepson. He earned $74,676 a year in 2014 from Mossy Ford.
There was also a 2009 bankruptcy filing. It is only in Selis’ name and lists liabilities exceeding $400,000. That filing said Selis had a rental property and lists liens for specialized mechanics’ tools. Before San Diego, he lived in Poway, California. That filing listed him as unmarried.
Facebook posts show the killer was from a large family well entrenched in the San Diego area.
4. Video Captured the Sounds of Gunfire & Shooting Scene
One man captured the steady sound of gunfire on a cell phone video as he stood at his apartment window. (Listen and watch above.)
A video that captured some of the shooting sounds was also posted to Snapchat:
Other videos showed the massive law enforcement response, as well as people sitting on the side of the road on curbs.
5. The Gunman Opened Fire at a Birthday Party After Being Invited to Join & May Have Fired Dozens of Shots
NBC 7 spoke to a witness who recounted how the “suspect walked into the pool area where friends were celebrating one of the tenants’ 50th birthday party.”
The witness told the television station that “the tenant who was celebrating his birthday walked up to the shooter, who seemed to be acting strangely. When he invited the suspect to join the celebration, the suspect lifted up his shirt, took out the gun and shot him in the stomach. He continued shooting people until he was out of bullets, according to the witness.”
According to ABC7, “The gunman apparently opened fire at a birthday party in the pool area of a complex in the University City area of San Diego around 6 p.m. Officers spotted the gunman still armed at the scene and engaged with him.”
10News reported that the woman who died was attending a birthday party.
The police chief confirmed in the news conference that the shooting occurred at a “large birthday party.” She said the party was occurring in the pool area of the apartment complex.
Witnessed described hearing 30-40 shots, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, and said the shooting scene resembled a war zone.