A San Diego County sheriff's homicide lieutenant said Tuesday that a man killed by a deputy Monday morning in Vista was not involved in an armed robbery, as originally reported, but was driving a stolen pickup truck.
Lt. Bill Baxter blamed erroneous reports of the armed robbery on "second- and third-hand relay of information" that began when the owner of the stolen truck asked an unidentified woman to call sheriff's deputies. According to Baxter, the owner told the woman that Frank Robert Sanchez, 21, and two male companions had stolen his truck and had a handgun.
The truck's owner and his brother had followed the three suspects before deputies were called, said Baxter. The owner stopped at the woman's house and asked her to dial the 911 emergency number. She informed deputies about the gun, and the call went out as an armed robbery, Baxter said. "But it was not an armed robbery," he said.
Minutes after receiving the call, Sheriff's Detective Perry Templeton and his partner, Deputy Carmen Martinez, stopped the truck in an alley and ordered the threesome out. Sanchez's companions, identified as Larry John Ortega, 36, and Manuel Contreras, 29, stepped out of the truck, but Sanchez remained behind the wheel.
A Sheriff's Department report said that Sanchez made "erratic movements" and began backing up toward Templeton. Templeton fired one shot through the truck's rear window and hit Sanchez in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Ortega and Contreras were not injured.
Templeton is on administrative leave pending an internal inquiry, common department practice after a shooting.