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Sheriff ‘cautiously optimistic’ about wounded deputies

One of the San Diego deputies who was shot Tuesday in a gun battle in Lakeside is in critical condition and the other is serious condition, the Sheriff's Department said Wednesday.

Both deputies were wearing protective vests when they went to interview a child-abuse suspect who allegedly opened fire with a rifle. They suffered wounds to the torso, the department said, probably in areas not protected by vests.

Sheriff Bill Gore, who returned Wednesday to Sharp Memorial Hospital to be with the deputies and their families, said he remains "cautiously optimistic" that the two will make a full recovery.

Det. Ali Perez is in critical condition; Sgt. Craig Johnson is listed in serious condition. Both are in the intensive care unit after undergoing hours of emergency surgery Tuesday.

The suspected gunman, 30-year-old Daniel Witczak, remains in Scripps Mercy Hospital after surgery. No information has been released about his condition but preliminary plans are underway for his arraignment on charges from the shooting.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff's Department thanked a member of the San Diego Police Department SWAT squad who helped pull the wounded deputies to safety as a gun battle between other deputies and the suspect continued. The officer's name was not released.

The shooting occurred as deputies went to interview Witczak about allegations leveled by his girlfriend that she had found pictures showing him in sexually explicit poses with her two young daughters. That investigation by the child abuse unit continues, the Sheriff's Department said.

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--Tony Perry in San Diego

 
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