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Wounding of Suspect by CHP Officer Is Probed

Times Staff Writer

A San Diego man who was shot by a highway patrolman in La Mesa Wednesday evening remained hospitalized in serious condition Thursday.

A spokesman for the California Highway Patrol declined to say whether the shooting of the suspected motorcycle thief was intentional or accidental.

Howard Gayne Grefsheim, 24, was shot by CHP Officer Doug Kennedy about 4:15 p.m. after Grefsheim was discovered hiding inside a boat parked in a yard in the 5100 block of Guava Avenue, said CHP spokesman Bob Melton. Kennedy, a four-year veteran of the CHP, was reportedly training his gun on Grefsheim while a La Mesa police officer attempted to pull him from the boat and the gun discharged, striking Grefsheim in the abdomen. The La Mesa officer, whose name was not released, had his gun holstered at the time, Melton said.

The incident began when Kennedy spotted the stolen motorcycle on the road and became suspicious because the ignition appeared to be damaged, Kennedy said. The patrolman tried to pull the motorcyclist over, but he sped off, then abandoned the motorcycle at an apartment complex and fled on foot, Melton said.

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Highway patrolmen, aided by La Mesa police and a sheriff’s helicopter, conducted a door-to-door search and found Grefsheim hiding in a boat that was covered with a tarp. Kennedy and the officer from La Mesa ordered Grefsheim out of the boat at gunpoint, but he refused to cooperate, Melton said. The policeman holstered his gun and was trying to pull Grefsheim out when the shooting occurred.

“The total reason for why he was shot has not been fully explained to me,” Melton said. “Something happened, and whether it was an accident or not I don’t know.”

Melton said the shooting is being investigated by the CHP and La Mesa police.

Grefsheim was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital, where his condition was upgraded from critical to serious Thursday, a hospital nursing supervisor said.

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