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Mario Gutierrez’s Fistfight

on a Flaming Forecourt

In 2013, would-be mass killer Dominique Jean went

crazy and set fire to a gas station forecourt in Florida. His

intention was to blow the whole thing up and take a whole

load of people with him. Officer Mario Gutierrez just hap-

pened to be passing and in the mood to hand out an ass-

kicking. He took one look at this madman walking

through a sea of fire toward the highly explosive under-

ground tanks and jumped right on in.

What followed was like the climax to a Lethal Weapon

flick. Surrounded by fire, Gutierrez charged headlong into

Jean, knocking him to the ground. Unfortunately for the

officer, his enemy was armed to the teeth. Jean repeat-

edly stabbed Gutierrez with a gigantic knife, causing him

devastating injuries. Yet Gutierrez kept right on fighting.

Every time Jean tried to leave his bloodied corpse and

make a bee-line for the gas tanks, Gutierrez got right

back to his feet and tackled him down again. Eventually,

surrounded by an inferno, the officer finally managed to

deliver a knockout punch. The score that day: Gutierrez

1, Forces of Darkness 0.

San Diego police Officer Jonathan Wiese was almost at Sunset

Cliffs early Saturday when a lieutenant radioed that the suicidal dri-

ver police had been looking for had just driven off the cliffs.

The man's wife had called the Sheriff's Department around 4:30

a.m. reporting that her husband had taken off with their 2-year-old

girls, with plans to drive off the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.

A sheriff's dispatcher notified San Diego police and put out a

description of the family and their tan pickup. After police traced the

man's cellphone to Sunset Cliffs, police Lt. Dave Bautista located

the truck on Hill Street near Cornish Drive.

As soon as Bautista got close, the driver sped off and careened off

the edge, plunging into the ocean below.

Wiese was on his way from the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, where

he had been keeping an eye out for the truck, when he heard the

radio call.

"Literally, my heart sank," Wiese said Sunday. He thought to him-

self, "Please tell me the girls were not in the car."

When he got to the scene moments later, he ran behind Bautista

to the edge of the cliffs. They saw the truck upside down, smashed

on a rock, with the cab underwater.Wiese said his first thought was

that no one survived. Then he saw the motions of the man, holding

onto the two girls.

Wiese, a 22-year veteran of the force and the father of a 2-year-old

girl and 4-year-old boy, said his "dad instincts" kicked in.

His first thought was to jump off the edge, but it was dark out and

the cliff side was rocky. Then he thought of a 100-foot-long canine

leash used for SWAT missions. The K-9 officer stripped off his gun

belt and vest, wrapped the leash around his chest and threw one

end over the cliffs. He gave the other end to arriving officers.

"I said, 'Hey, hang on. I'm going.'"

Officers helped lower him about 30 feet onto rocks, where Wiese

got into the water and swam to the family, his uniform and boots

still on. The man was treading water with a girl in each arm. One

girl was crying, holding onto the man's neck; the other appeared to

be "lifeless," Wiese said.

Because of the report of the man's suicidal thoughts, Wiese

thought it best to rescue all three and not leave the man behind.

Wiese remembered his water survival training from Marine Corps

boot camp. He swam under the trio as he pushed them to shore,

keeping them above water.

At the bottom of the cliff, he put the girl who appeared to be in

worst shape in a canvas bag. Using the same leash, officers hoisted

the girl up the cliff's edge. With the help of arriving San Diego Fire-

Rescue personnel, they repeated the process to rescue the second


Wiese stayed with the man, who "was banged up pretty good,"

until a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department helicopter hoisted the

man up.

The three were taken to hospitals. They were expected to survive.

"That's the best news you can have," he said. "All I care about is

that those girls are going to live and have a second chance at life."

Wiese said the moment was a reminder that officers "are trying to

do the right thing."

The rescue wasn't the first time Wiese has jumped into action. He

was the officer who arrested the suspect in the shootings at the

Chabad of Poway in April 2019 that left Lori Lynn Gilbert-Kaye dead

and three others wounded.

He later testified that he heard a radio dispatch regarding shots

fired in Rancho Bernardo and raced off in that direction, at up to 130

mph, reaching the suspect's car in about 10 minutes. He ordered

John Timothy Earnest out of the car and handcuffed him.

The North San Diego Business Chamber last September recog-

nizedWiese and other officers for heroism and courage in the shoot-


Wiese said Sunday that officers sign up with the police depart-

ment because they want to protect the public. "We don't do it for

glory or a paycheck." David Hernandez - San Diego Union-Tribune

Rescuing Officer Jonathan Wiese with his two children

Officer Jonathan Wiese rescued these two children

K-9 leash used to rappel down cliffs to rescue 3A suicidal man in San Diego drove off the cliffs with

his two daughters in the car, plunging into the ocean belowJun 15, 2020