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Suspect arrested after 5-hour standoff near San Diego airport; FAA says many flights affected

Police say the suspect, Titus Colbert, 33, surrendered about 2:30 p.m.local time -- about 10 minutes after officers lobbed flashbang grenades inside his apartment.

By
Doug G. Ware

SAN DIEGO, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- A gunman who repeatedly fired at police officers near San Diego International Airport Wednesday -- and prevented any commercial flights from landing there -- was finally arrested after a five-hour standoff, authorities said.

The suspected gunman had barricaded himself in a nearby apartment after the first shots were fired, investigators said, and he refused to come out.

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Officers responded to the man's apartment after receiving reports of a domestic dispute there. When they arrived, officials said, the gunman started shooting at them -- leading authorities to lock down nearby schools and streets.

Five hours after the shots were first reported, the suspect was taken into custody, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. He was identified by police as Titus Colbert, 33.

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SWAT team officers lobbed flashbang grenades into the suspect's apartment Wednesday afternoon. He surrendered about 10 minutes later. Earlier, news reports said, they fired tear gas canisters inside.

"We are so grateful, so thankful, no citizens, no officers - no one was injured," police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said following the standoff.

Colbert reportedly has a criminal past that includes a drug conviction in 2012, an assault conviction in 2010 and a weapons conviction seven years before that. A detective also said he was a documented member of a San Diego area gang.

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One witness said he counted the exact number of gun shots during the tense ordeal.

"I was counting in my head there were 48 shots fired," neighbor Austin Kinghorn said. "His [gun] was a higher caliber, a louder shot."

"Those shots could go through our walls. What if he had a bomb? I told my roommate we needed to leave," witness Josh Hauptman said.

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Before he surrendered, the suspect tossed out a handgun and an AK-47 assault rifle, the Union-Tribune reported.

During the standoff, the Federal Aviation Administration prohibited flights from landing at the airport, which affected many flights. About 30 commercial flights bound for San Diego were canceled and 30 others were delayed, KGTV reported, citing the FAA's Pacific Division.

The diverted flights instead landed at Los Angeles International Airport.

An FAA official said the ground stop was issued because arriving flights would have to fly directly over the gunman's apartment. Departing flights were not affected because they take off in another direction, away from the apartment complex.

"He has been actively shooting, sporadically," San Diego Police Lt. Scott Wahl told the Union-Tribune, adding that the woman involved in the initial domestic call was safely out of the apartment.

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"Only thing I have heard from the police is that there is a shooter and to stay inside, or at least venture no closer," resident Scotty Joseph said earlier. "Neighbors have been in and out. Everyone is curious, but nobody wants to get shot."

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