A recent breakup set off a shooting spree that ended with a man wounded at a South Side movie theater before the suspect was shot by an off-duty deputy, authorities said Monday.
Jesus Manuel Garcia, 19, an employee at a China Garden restaurant next to the Santikos Mayan Palace 14 theater, apparently became upset Sunday night after his girlfriend broke up with him.
He lashed out by sending her a message saying he planned to go to the restaurant and “shoot somebody,” said Bexar County sheriff's Sgt. Raymond Pollard.
Pollard said the woman called to warn restaurant employees, but by the time she saw his message, Garcia was already outside the China Garden firing a Glock 23 at the front door about 9:25 p.m.
Garcia went inside, chased people out the back door, and followed one employee as he ran toward the theater, apparently because he was the easiest target, Pollard said.
“He was chasing him, shooting in the air and at other cars,” Pollard said.
He said that when a San Antonio police officer heard the gunshots and pulled into the theater's parking lot, Garcia shot out his patrol car's windshield.
Garcia then pursued the employee into the theater, firing more shots when he reached the lobby, Pollard said.
One of the shots struck a patron in the back, but the bullet did not strike any vital organs and the man was released from San Antonio Military Medical Center later Sunday night.
Bexar County sheriff's Sgt. Lisa Castellano, who was working off-duty as a security guard at the Mayan Palace, chased the gunman toward the back of the theater. The 13-year department veteran cornered him after he ran into a men's restroom, shooting him several times and taking his gun, Pollard said.
Armando Olguin, an off-duty San Antonio Independent School District police officer, restrained him using the sergeant's handcuffs, Pollard said.
Garcia was rushed to SAMMC, where he was in stable condition in the intensive care unit Monday.
Bexar County officials said Castellano was told not to talk to media about the shooting because the investigation is ongoing.
SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price praised Olguin, a four-year department veteran, calling him an “excellent officer.”
“It sounds like he did all the right things,” Price said.
The shooting immediately sparked fears of a mass slaying like the one in July that killed 12 people and injured 58 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
Tara Grace, who was buying a drink from the concession stand when the shooting began, ran into the bathroom and locked herself in a stall with five other patrons to avoid the mayhem.
“We thought we were going to die,” she said.
Cassandra Castillo waited anxiously outside the theater Sunday night for her son, a projectionist at the theater.
“It brings back memories of the other theater shooting, and the elementary school shooting,” she said, referring to Friday's Newtown, Conn., shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead. “You only think the worst.”
A restaurant employee who asked not to be identified said such an attack was out of character for Garcia, known as “Chuy” to coworkers.
“He's a good kid and not violent. He's quiet and minds his own business,” the coworker said. “I have nothing bad to say about him.”
The restaurant's owner declined Monday to talk about the shooting or provide his name, but he did say he planned to reopen the business once the front door is replaced and crews can fix the bullet holes in the walls and windows.
A Santikos spokesman did not return a message seeking comment.
Garcia was charged with attempted capital murder of a police officer and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to arrest records. His bail was set at a combined $1 million.