The suspect was identified by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department as Thomas Falk, who was linked to the killing of 39-year-old Ada M. Talley earlier in the day because he allegedly had previously kidnaped and assaulted her, authorities said.
The bizarre turn of events--including a seven-hour span when the woman's wounded son was treated as a hostile gunman by deputies--began shortly after midnight Thursday when Talley's body was found outside her Santee trailer, Sheriff's Department spokesman Larry Van Dusen said.
Deputies believed the suspect was still inside the trailer, and surrounded it with more than 40 deputies and SWAT team members. They spoke with a man, later identified as Talley's son, David Thomas, who is in his mid-20s, but then lost touch with him and thought he was either drunk or had fallen asleep.
Deputies fired tear gas and explosive sound devices into the trailer to re-establish contact about 7 a.m., and Thomas finally left the trailer a half hour later. Only then did deputies realize that he was not the suspect, but himself a victim of gunfire who had been shot in the head, Van Dusen said.
He was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital where he was listed Friday night in critical condition.
Deputies then learned from witnesses that a man had sped away in a maroon-colored van shortly after the shooting, Van Dusen said.
A check of police records showed Falk as the primary suspect in a previous kidnaping and assaults on Talley, and deputies went to his home in the 12000 block of Lemon Crest Drive in Lakeside. A maroon-colored van was outside the home, Van Dusen said.
After surrounding the home, deputies broke into Falk's house, only to discover him already dead. Van Dusen would not elaborate on the cause of Falk's death.
Sheriff's deputies now believe Falk confronted Talley and her son at their Santee trailer, shooting the son once in the head and then shooting Talley, who tried to escape and was found at the bottom of her steps with multiple gunshot wounds.