SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Police were involved a pursuit late Saturday that ended with a deadly officer-involved shooting in Escondido.
It happened just after 8 p.m. right in front of Valley View Casino.
A witness who was inside when it happened spoke to News 8 about what she heard and saw.
"I saw about 20 people running towards me and I looked back like 'What's going on?'" said Emily Hoppe.
Hoppe was just sitting down to dinner when the chaos broke out.
"All of a sudden, they came over to us and said, 'Get down, get down,'" she said. "I stood up and said 'Why? What's going on?' They said 'There's a gunman. Just get on the floor now.' And tables were flipped over, and everyone just panicked."
San Diego County Sheriff's deputies said the incident started after Escondido police responded to a disturbance call in the 1400 block of Timber Glen in Escondido.
"While they were conducting their preliminary investigation, a potential suspect fled the area in a vehicle and a pursuit ensued," said San Diego County Sheriff's Department Lt. Rich Williams.
The pursuit came to a head in the front entrance of the casino.
Deputies say the suspect - who is believed to have been armed with a handgun - exited his vehicle and was shot and killed by an Escondido police officer.
"Everyone just panicked," said Hoppe.
While she doesn't know what the suspect's intentions were, Hoppe says she is terrified to think what could have happened had he made it into the building.
"He could have had hostages - that's what we were afraid of," she said. "We didn't know what he looked like, which way he was coming in."
Deputies say detectives did recover a handgun believed to belong to the suspect on scene.
"You have to use your best judgement as a police officer when you're going to possibly kill one person with a gun to save a thousand people," said Hoppe. "I think that was the right choice, so I thank the police for that."