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San Diego deputies wounded in gunfight remain hospitalized

September 26, 2012 |  8:17 am

Two San Diego County sheriff's deputies shot Tuesday in a gun battle with a child-abuse suspect remain hospitalized Wednesday after undergoing lengthy emergency surgeries.

Sheriff Bill Gore, who spent hours at the hospital during and after the surgery, said late Tuesday night that he is "hopeful and cautiously optimistic that both deputies will make a full recovery."

The suspect was also shot during what was described as a 15-minute gun battle with deputies. Identified as 30-year-old Daniel Witczak of Lakeside, he underwent surgery at a different hospital.

The wounded deputies -- Sgt. Craig Johnson, a 23-year veteran of the department, and detective Ali Perez, an 18-year veteran, now with the child-abuse unit -- had gone to an apartment in Lakeside to question Witczak about allegations from his girlfriend that he had engaged in sexual contact with her young daughters. The girlfriend said she had found pictures showing him having sex with the girls, twin 8-year-olds.

Witczak fired at the deputies with a high-powered rifle, leading to a gun battle outside the apartment, according to sheriff's Capt. Duncan Fraser. The woman said she believed Witczak may have shot himself during the exchange of fire, but Fraser said he did not believe that Witczak's wounds were self-inflicted.

The wounded deputies were rushed to Sharp Memorial Hospital, where Gore and other law enforcement officials and rank and file soon gathered. The suspect was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital; no information is available on his condition.

"It's a constant reminder of how dangerous this job is that we do every day," Gore said of the incident.

Sheriff's homicide detectives, who investigate all officer-involved shootings, spent the night at the Lakeside shooting site gathering information from residents.


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