Deputy allegedly tries to drive through Coronado naval base gate while under the influence, prompts shooting
The San Diego Union-Tribune March 18, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — A sheriff’s deputy suspected of being under the influence was arrested after allegedly trying to drive through the main gate of Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado Friday night, prompting base guards to shoot at his vehicle, officials said Saturday.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Cruz was off duty and didn’t have the proper clearance when he tried to get through the gate near Third Street and Alameda Boulevard about 10:30 p.m., officials said.
A Navy spokesperson said Cruz was being aggressive and wasn’t following the instructions of the gate guards. When Cruz attempted to drive into base, several guards opened fire.
“He was being aggressive,” Naval Base Coronado spokesperson Kevin Dixon said. “The (military) security guards felt threatened by his actions.”
No one was injured in the shooting, authorities said.
Cruz was booked into jail on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, a sheriff’s official said. He was later released on his own recognizance pending future court dates.
The sergeant was hired in 2006 and is assigned to the Sheriff’s Department’s emergency planning detail, sheriff’s officials said. He was placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated.
The Coronado Police Department and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are investigating the incident, with cooperation from the Sheriff’s Department.
“The Sheriff’s Department will not tolerate criminal behavior in its ranks and will hold employees accountable for their actions,” a sheriff’s news release said.
The base was temporarily locked down following the incident, and the main gate was closed for several hours while authorities investigated.
Naval Air Station North Island is one of eight U.S. military installations that make up Naval Base Coronado.
In February 2022, a motorist was found with bomb-making materials at the same gate on the base. The materials were not assembled into a device, and the driver was detained for questioning, the base said at the time.
Cruz is at least the fifth sheriff’s deputy to be arrested this year.
In January, Deputy Cory Richey was arrested after he allegedly stole prescription drugs from a drop box in a sheriff’s station on several occasions, officials said. He was suspended without pay, and has pleaded not guilty in San Diego Superior Court to burglary and drug possession charges
Three additional deputies were arrested in February. Deputy Allen Wereski, 48, was taken into custody Feb. 3 after authorities say they found cocaine in his car at a jail. The 48-year-old has pleaded not guilty in San Diego Superior Court to a charge of possessing drugs on jail property, and faces up to four years in custody if he’s convicted. Wereski was suspended without pay and is no longer with the department.
The next day, Deputies Shawn Kobs and Tara Heath were arrested after a fight in a Ramona bar. The two deputies were said to have taken part in the altercation and were arrested on suspicion of public intoxication, the department said.
An update on their cases was not immediately available.
City News Service contributed to this report.
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