Six Wounded in New Year's Shootings

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A San Diego County sheriff's deputy was shot and slightly injured as his partner struggled with an armed Ramona man, one of several violent incidents to occur New Year's Eve and morning.

Deputy Michael J. Vaszorich, 46, was struck by a bullet in the chest after Sgt. Thomas Cleary began wrestling with a man allegedly wielding a .357 magnum pistol, Sheriff's Sgt. Manny Castillo said. Vaszorich wore a bulletproof vest, which partially fended off the shot, Castillo said. He was treated at Sharp Memorial Hospital and released Wednesday afternoon, a hospital spokesman said.

Domingo Gutierrez-Martinez, 25, was arrested on suspicion of two counts of attempted murder, and was being held at County Jail downtown.

The shooting occurred when Vaszorich and Cleary responded about 11:30 p.m. to a call of a disturbance at an apartment building in the 100 block of 14th Street in Ramona, authorities said. A neighbor had complained of gunshots coming from a New Year's celebration.

The deputies entered an apartment and found Gutierrez seated on a couch with a large gun tucked into his pants, officials said. Gutierrez immediately drew the weapon and threatened the deputies, according to authorities, and, as Cleary lunged for the gun, a stray shot caught Vaszorich in the ribs. Cleary then wrested the gun away, authorities said.

In other events, San Diego police responded to three unrelated shootings within the first three hours of 1992. Five people were hospitalized, three in critical condition.

Details on the shootings were sketchy, authorities said.

In the first incident, which occurred about 10 minutes past midnight, Anthony Murphy, 20, was found near a residence in the 200 block of Ozark Street in Southeast San Diego. He had been shot once in the face and twice in the upper chest, Officer Mark McCullough said.

Murphy was taken to Mercy Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. Following surgery Wednesday afternoon, Murphy's condition was upgraded to fair, said Michael Scahill, a hospital spokesman.

In the second shooting, a 16-year-old boy was shot in the head and a companion was wounded in the back while they sat in a car in East San Diego, McCullough said. Because the victims apparently took themselves to the hospital, police did not have an immediate record of where the shooting occurred. Investigators said it may have been on University Avenue.

The unidentified 16-year-old was in critical condition at Sharp Memorial Hospital, nursing supervisor Sharon Miller said. The companion, 18-year-old Phommarine Somphouvanh, was in satisfactory condition, Miller said.

In the third incident, an argument between neighbors in the 3300 block of K Street in Logan Heights led to gunfire in which Raphael Espendola, 31, was shot in the chest, with the bullet nicking his heart.

Espendola was in critical condition at UC San Diego Medical Center, said Tom Banazak, a nursing supervisor. Espendola's father, Pedro Ledesma, 46, was struck on the right hand during the shooting, which took place shortly before 2:30 a.m. He was treated and released, Banazak said.

"It got violent after midnight," McCullough said. "More violence than we're used to."

McCullough also said there were dozens of reports of guns being fired in celebration of the new year.

"Throughout the evening, there was a rain of lead," McCullough said.

No injuries related to the random shootings were reported, he said.

An above-average number of motorists were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, police and California Highway Patrol officials said.

Between 6 p.m. Dec. 31 and 6 a.m. Jan. 1, the CHP arrested 44 people suspected of drunk driving. San Diego Police arrested 26, El Cajon police 10 and Carlsbad police arrested five.

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