"I've lived here all my life and I've never seen anything like this. With the drug thing going on, it's like things are getting worse and worse." – Bernard Marquez, a resident on Chalan Langet, in Dededo, where the shooting occurred
Two police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave following a lethal shootout with an alleged armed robber early yesterday morning. The Guam Police Department will now conduct an administrative investigation in conjunction with a criminal investigation related to the incident.
Another officer sustained injuries during the encounter, but the injuries are not gunshot-related, police Chief Joseph Cruz said.
In a press conference, the police chief said he could not release much more information about the officers or the suspect, who died during the exchange.
The Guam Daily Post has learned from multiple sources that the deceased suspect's name is Steve Seagraves. While he did not know the man's first name, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola confirmed that the suspect's last name is Seagraves. He was arrested in 2015 on DUI charges.
An autopsy is scheduled for Monday afternoon.
The shootout occurred early yesterday morning. Cruz said officers received a call from a security guard at the House of Liberty game room in Barrigada around 5 a.m.
The security guard stated that there was a man on scene wielding a gun. Police responded and found the suspect exiting the game room. He fled in a vehicle and led officers into a high-speed chase through Route 8 into the Dededo area.
"During the pursuit, the suspect began shooting at police officers, placing the officers and the general public at great risk," Cruz said.
The chase ended at Chalan Langhet in Dededo, where multiple shots were fired at officers and the suspect was shot.
One police officer was taken to the Guam Memorial Hospital for treatment to his eye, which was injured from the suspect shooting at his patrol car. Cruz said the officer had been released.
'Never seen anything like this'
Bernard Marquez, a resident on Chalan Langhet, described what he heard early yesterday morning.
"I got up when I heard the shots. It was pretty loud," Marquez said. "You could just tell they were gunshots right away.
He could tell they were gunshots because people have fired shots in the jungle nearby.
"I've lived here all my life, and I've never seen anything like this. With the drug thing going on, it's like things are getting worse and worse. It's like every week you hear about another game room robbery."
Marquez sat in front of his home, sometimes pacing back and forth across his lawn, observing the police activity on the typically quiet residential road.
Dead at the scene
The medical examiner pronounced the suspect dead at the scene yesterday morning.
The injured police officer is part of the Robbery Suppression Task Force, which was formed in response to a rash of robberies over the last few weeks taking place at multiple 24-hour businesses. Cruz said GPD had reason to believe that yesterday's incident was related to other robberies the police were investigating. The suspect was alone at the time of the incident but police are also looking at possible accomplices.
While an administrative investigation is being conducted to determine whether officers followed proper procedure, Cruz said it was his "honest opinion" that the officers acted professionally and on the surface, everything had been done in accordance with GPD rules and regulations.
"The incident that occurred, while it is unfortunate that a life was taken, we did what we needed to do," Cruz said during the press conference.
"Very professional actions were taken this morning and their responses to the incident that occurred, (officers) deferred back to the training that they received ... to the experiences of the past, and again, we did what we had to do. ... I would like to commend the entire police department for their actions this morning."
No other injuries were reported as a result of the chase and shootout. GPD is also investigating the gun the suspect used. Cruz said he did not know yet if the gun was registered or the identity of the owner. The vehicle the suspect used was not stolen.
Maj. Manny Chong, acting GPD commander, had stern words for potential robbers and their families.
"If you don't want this scenario to happen to them, you need to talk to the Guam Police Department, call us and tell us who is committing these robberies. Then we can do an investigation, rather than do a hot pursuit, get into a shootout and somebody ends up dead," Chong said.
'There are no winners'
Acting Gov. Ray Tenorio said he and the governor and their families are praying for everyone involved in the fatal shootout.
"There are no winners in incidents like this," Tenorio said yesterday. "We have frightened employees at the game room, police officers who were involved in a life-threatening situation, and grieving friends and family members. I ask that we all support GPD as they search for answers."