It was still dark outside when a single shot rang out inside a carport in the Ocean Park neighborhood in Santa Monica Wednesday morning. It marked the starting point of one of the most unusual investigations SMPD detectives have pursued in recent memory.
Lt. Saul Rodriguez, who reviews every noteworthy incident as part of his job as media-relations officer, could not remember another time a victim has shot a suspect in the City by the Sea.
“I cannot,” He told the Daily Press Wednesday. “It’s very unusual for a situation like this…definitely.”
The case – and whether the victim also becomes a suspect – is now in the hands of the District Attorney.
Police say the victim, who they are not naming at this point, was the one who called police to say someone was trying to steal his car at his apartment complex on Bicknell Avenue, just three blocks up from the beach.
It was just after 5 a.m. and the victim walked outside to find the would-be carjacker sitting in his car. He brought his handgun with him.
It’s not a move police would advocate.
“We recommend that they 9-1-1 and wait for our arrival,” Rodriguez said. “You never know when a suspect might be armed as well and it might lead to a much more complicated situation.”
And this situation is already complicated.
At this point, it appears the suspected burglar was unarmed. The victim says the young man was sitting in his car. There was an argument. A “verbal exchange.”
“At some point, the victim fired a single gunshot at the suspect. The suspect fled on foot,” Rodriguez said.
When officers got to the neighborhood they immediately blocked off streets and began looking for the wounded man. The 20-year-old suspect was found nearby. He had been shot in the chest.
Police say his injuries were not life-threatening. In fact, Vidas Sileikis was well enough to go to jail before the end of the day. The Santa Monica resident is charged with residential burglary, attempted vehicle theft and possession of methamphetamine. His bail has been set at $50,000.
As for the victim, police say he may be facing charges himself.
California penal code gives the gunman the benefit of the doubt when he or she shoots someone within their own residence who unlawfully entered the home. Lt. Rodriguez says the fact the victim walked outside and confronted the suspect, even though it was on apartment grounds, makes this situation, well, complicated.
“I know we’re still investigating what exactly lead up to the shooting,” Rodriguez said.
Any other witnesses can call Detective Larios at (310) 458-8937 or the Santa Monica Police Department at (310) 458-8491.