As San Diego police continue investigating the La Jolla pool party shooting, new information has many questioning if Peter Selis’s attack was racially motivated. During the shooting, Selis allegedly told a white guest they had a choice to leave and live or stay and die. On Sunday, Selis started firing at party guests while he sat on a patio chair with a beer in hand.
His attack resulted in the death of Monique Clark and injured six others. Although San Diego police first reported all the victims were Black or Hispanic, they revised their statement and reported one of the victims was a white woman.
“We have zero information that this was racially motivated,” Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said at a Monday news conference.
Instead, police have claimed Selis’s actions were inspired by a breakup. During the shooting, Selis phoned his ex-girlfriend to inform her of the actions he took. Chief Zimmerman said Selis’s attack was a “spontaneous act of violence.”
However, new testimonies have many urging police to consider race as a motivating factor in the case.
20-year-old UC San Diego student Kaela Wong was hidden near the hot tub when she heard Selis threaten a white woman who attempted to help one of the victims. Wong told the Los Angeles Times she overheard Selis say:
“You can either leave or you can stay here and die.”
The police department’s refusal to consider this a hate crime has infuriated many activists.
“The reason why people are speculating a hate crime in the community is because this is a 49-year-old white male who walks into a pool area, a gathering with mostly Black people, in a mostly white community in San Diego,” Rev. Shane Harris of the San Diego chapter of the National Action Network told the San Diego Tribune.
Additionally, activist Tariq Nasheed has penned a series of tweets questioning how the facts do not suggest Selis was racially motivated.
“Officials still won’t admit this was a hate crime,” Nasheed said on Twitter. “I would like [the San Diego Police Department] to explain how a white killer can go to a predominantly white area of San Diego, shoot 7 Blks, and it’s NOT racial?”
Selis's family has released an official statement giving their condolences to the victims and denying the act was racially motivated.
The statement transcript from CBS 8 reads:
"Our family feels the unbearable pain caused by Pete's senseless acts. We cannot understand what would have caused Pete to do this. Words cannot express our profound grief and sorrow for all the victims and their families. On behalf of our family, we are so sorry that this happened. We ask that you please respect our privacy. We will miss our beloved Pete forever."
(Photo: John Gastaldo / ZUMA Press / Splash News)