SAN JOSE – San Jose Police Officer, 38-year-old Michael Johnson, Badge #3718, was shot and killed on Tuesday, March 24, at approximately 6:48 pm. SJPD patrol units had responded to an emergency call in which a man was threatening to kill himself with a firearm.
57-year-old Scott Dunham hit officers with a barrage of bullets, fatally wounding Johnson as he approached the residence. According to Sergeant Enrique Garcia of the SJPD, “Multiple officers had arrived on-scene and were met with gunfire by the suspect, who was in his apartment balcony, armed with a high powered rifle.”
Shots rang out from 2664 Senter Road, apartment 217 in San Jose, where Dunham had waited for police to arrive from his front balcony. Once officers began to fire back, Dunham tried to take cover, but was injured during the confrontation and was later pronounced dead on the outer balcony, eight hours after the incident first started. Police entered the residence around 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday and found his body, fatally wounded from multiple shots. It is unclear if he died from a self inflicted gunshot wound or from officers who had first responded to the scene and returned fire.
Lights were shattered as gunshots gouged through walls where the suspect once stood. After a barrage of bullets ended, the suspect was thought to have barricaded himself inside the residence, eventually succumbing to his injuries. Garcia said, “The suspect was located deceased in the balcony of his residence.” Responding Mobile Emergency Response Group and Equipment Unit, also known as MERGE, had tried to contact the suspect, but never reached him. He may have been dead from the initial exchange of gunfire.
It is still unclear as to why the suspect shot at officers. However, it was clear that Dunham was intoxicated during the time of the incident.
Police are asking that residents throughout San Jose and other areas shine a blue light during the night in honor of the fallen officer.
A press conference was held the night of the shooting with San Jose Chief of Police Larry Esquivel and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo speaking about the event.
Chief Esquivel said “This is a sad day for law enforcement and for the police department and our community.” Esquivel explained that the suspect fired from his residence using a high powered rifle as police officers approached from the sidewalk, when the despondent and intoxicated Dunham fatally struck and killed Johnson. Esquivel said, “Fellow officers returned fire, possibly, but unknown, striking the suspect.” Esquivel explained that the suspect was still known to be at his residence as police units locked down the area. “I can assure you that the person responsible for this act will be apprehended,” Esquivel said.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said, “This strikes at the heart of all of us here in San Jose and all throughout the region.” He added “Our thoughts go out to the men and women who are out there now in harm’s way.”
A memorial service is expected to be held within the next few days as family members and law enforcement officers throughout California and the United States are expected to pay their respect to the 14-year SJPD veteran.
Crime scene photos by Amy Nilson.