One dead, at least one injured in shooting at Juneteenth event in San Diego

Police investigate the scene of a shooting at Liberty Station on Saturday.
San Diego police investigate the scene of a shooting at a Juneteenth event at the Liberty Station shopping and entertainment district Saturday.
(Meg McLaughlin / San Diego Union-Tribune)
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A dispute at a Juneteenth event in San Diego’s Liberty Station led to a shooting that left one person dead and another injured Saturday night, local police said.

Multiple people reported gunfire at a park off Cushing Road between Womble and Roosevelt roads about 6:45 p.m. Police initially said the incident happened at a concert.

“This appears to be an isolated incident resulting from a dispute here at the event with one person injured and one person, unfortunately, deceased,” San Diego Police Lt. Adam Sharki said.


One person who called 911 said that four to five gunshots were fired and that two people were shot, according to police radio traffic. Several hundred people attended the event, officers could be heard saying.

Dozens of police officers rushed to the busy shopping and entertainment district soon after the shooting. They roped off a section of the park as they investigated, even as people continued to shop and dine at nearby stores and restaurants.

The shooter was not in custody by 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

Bethany Harris, 61, said she was steps from her vendor booth when she heard commotion, and turned around to see “chaos.”

“People were running with their kids,” she said.

Harris checked whether she could render medical aid to a shooting victim, finding that someone was already performing CPR.

Once police arrived, the gravity of what happened hit her.

“It overwhelmed me and I just kind of broke down,” she said. Until then, it had been “just such a nice day. Such pleasantry. So many little kids and babies out with their parents.”

Terell Online, a musician, had been packing up after spending the day selling merchandise at the event and was walking toward his car in the parking lot when he heard gunshots, he said.


“Everybody started running,” the 34-year-old said.

Before the shooting, it had been “just a regular, fun, family day,” he said, with DJs and food.

“It sucks” that it happened at an event marking Juneteenth, he said. “It’s supposed to be a day of peace and happiness.”

But gun violence has become so routine that “I can’t say I’m shocked,” he said.

Juneteenth, a federal holiday observed annually on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when word of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Galveston, Texas, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the order freeing enslaved Black people in the United States. The holiday’s name is a portmanteau of the words “June” and “nineteenth” and celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.

According to an Instagram post, the Liberty Station event was scheduled to run from noon to 7 p.m. and featured music, vendors, food and games.

“What happened at this event is tragic,” said Donna DeBerry, president and chief executive of the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce. DeBerry was not at the event, but said the shock of the shooting had reverberated throughout the community, especially because it had struck an event memorializing such an important historic event.

“We’re all saddened by this and shocked,” DeBerry said. “And what we’re asking ourselves — and what I think the whole community is asking — is why? What was the reason for this? To take another person’s life at an event that was a celebration and a commemoration?”


Especially alarming was that it happened at a family-friendly event. “Whoever did this, I hope they find them. Because this person had no regard for anyone’s life, including the children,” DeBerry said.

“Let’s keep our eye on what this particular day means,” she said. “The meaning and the purpose of this day.”

Sharki said police investigators are speaking to several witnesses and looking for more.

“We know there were a lot of people at this event, a lot of people at the park,” he said. “We know people saw something, whether that was a car, a license plate, what led up to this.”

Police asked anyone who was at the event and witnessed or has information about the shooting to call the San Diego Police Department or Crime Stoppers anonymously at (888) 580-8477.

Winkley, Molnar, Figueroa and Riggins write for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Reyes writes for the Los Angeles Times.