Man, 20, dead, another injured in shooting at Liberty Station Juneteenth event

Police investigate the scene of a shooting at Liberty Station on June 17.
San Diego police investigate the scene of a shooting at a Liberty Station Juneteenth event on June 17.
(Meg McLaughlin / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Police say the shooting stemmed from a dispute at the event at about 6:45 p.m.


A dispute at a Juneteenth event at Liberty Station in Point Loma led to a shooting that left a 20-year-old man dead and another 20-year-old man injured the night of June 17, San Diego police said.

Multiple people reported gunfire at NTC Park off Cushing Road between Womble and Roosevelt roads about 6:45 p.m.

Police initially said the shooting happened at a concert. According to a social media post, the event was scheduled to run from noon to 7 p.m. and featured music, vendors, food and games.

“This appears to be an isolated incident resulting from a dispute at the event,” said police Lt. Adam Sharki.

Homicide Lt. Steve Shebloski said a fight broke out about 15 minutes before the event was scheduled to end. During that fight, a man pulled out a handgun and shot the two victims before fleeing the scene.

“It is still being determined if the victims were participants in the fight, were targeted by the suspect for an unknown reason or if they were innocent bystanders who were struck by gunfire,” Shebloski said in a statement June 18.

Officers arrived within minutes to find one of the victims with at least one gunshot wound to his “upper body,” Shebloski said. Medics took him to a hospital, where he died.

Police had identified him by the next morning but did not release his name while still making family notifications, Shebloski said.

The other victim was shot in a leg and initially left the scene in a private vehicle, Shebloski said. The vehicle stopped a short distance away and medics took the wounded man to a hospital in an ambulance. His injury was not expected to be life-threatening, Shebloski said.

One person who called 911 said four or five shots rang out and that two people were hit, according to police radio traffic. Several hundred people attended the event, officers could be heard saying.

Only a vague description of the gunman was available. Shebloski said detectives were interviewing witnesses and seeking surveillance footage and other evidence that could help identify the man.

Anyone with information about the shooting was asked to call the San Diego police homicide unit at (619) 531-2293 or San Diego County Crime Stoppers’ anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.

Bethany Harris, 61, said she was a few yards from her vendor booth when she heard commotion and turned around to see “chaos.”

“People were running with their kids,” she said.

Harris rushed back to her booth, where she’d left her 37-year-old daughter, then went to see if she could render medical aid to a victim, but someone was already performing CPR.

Harris said she heard sirens coming “and I tried to move everybody back to point them to the guy.”

Once police arrived, the gravity of what happened hit her. Her heart began racing, she said.

“It overwhelmed me and I just kind of broke down,” she said. Until then, it had been “just such a nice day. Such pleasantry. So many little kids and babies out with their parents.”

Terell Online, a musician, had been packing up after spending the day selling merchandise at the event and was walking toward his car in the parking lot when he heard gunshots, he said.

“Everybody started running,” the 34-year-old said.

Before the shooting, it had been “just a regular, fun, family day,” he said, with DJs and food.

A Juneteenth celebration, he said, is “supposed to be a day of peace and happiness.”

But gun violence has become so routine that “I can’t say I’m shocked,” he added.

Juneteenth, celebrated annually on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when word of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the order freeing enslaved Black people in the United States. The day celebrates the end of slavery in America.

Donna DeBerry, president and chief executive of the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, was not at the Liberty Station event but said the shock of the shooting had reverberated throughout the community, especially because it struck an event memorializing such an important historic moment.

“What happened at this event is tragic,” she said. “We’re all saddened by this and shocked. And what we’re asking ourselves — and what I think the whole community is asking — is why? What was the reason for this? To take another person’s life at an event that was a celebration and a commemoration?”

“Whoever did this, I hope they find them,” she added. “Because this person had no regard for anyone’s life, including the children.”

Dozens of police officers rushed to the busy commercial district soon after the shooting. Police roped off a large section of the park as they investigated, even as people continued to shop and dine at nearby stores and restaurants.

“We know there were a lot of people at this event, a lot of people at the park,” Sharki said. “We know people saw something, whether that was a car, a license plate, what led up to this.”

— Los Angeles Times staff writer Emily Alpert Reyes and Point Loma-OB Monthly staff contributed to this report.


11:54 a.m. June 18, 2023: This article was updated with more information and comments.

9:15 a.m. June 18, 2023: This article was updated with more comments.


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