San Diego teen killed in ambush by father

Saturday, September 6, 2003

SAN DIEGO -- A 14-year-old boy jogging with his high school cross-country team was shot and killed in an ambush by his father, who killed himself hours later in a standoff with police.

William Hoffine, 58, had been in deep debt and was enmeshed in a bitter custody battle with the boy's mother, who had obtained a court order to keep him away.

"For whatever reason, he decided he was going to kill himself and decided his son would be better off dead rather than live without him," police Lt. Mike Hurley said.

Hoffine stepped out from behind a parked van Thursday afternoon and fired several shots at the boy, then reloaded his pistol and fired into the fallen boy's head as his teammates scrambled for cover, witnesses and police said.

Hoffine then drove to a friend's home and spent nearly 10 hours in on-and-off negotiations with police before shooting himself in the head early Friday.

The slain teenager, Evan Nash, was a freshman who had started at Point Loma High just three days before. At his middle school, the boy helped establish a program to discourage violence.

Tommy Ramirez, owner of a neighborhood restaurant frequented by the father and son, said that shortly before the shooting everything seemed normal as Hoffine ordered an enchilada to go and asked if his son had jogged by.

A few minutes later the team ran past and the father called out to the boy, who nodded and kept jogging, Ramirez said, adding that he commented to Hoffine that his son seemed in good condition.

"Yeah, he's looking good. I've got to go," Ramirez quoted the father as saying.

"He didn't seem to me that he was just about to kill somebody," Ramirez said. "I'm just wondering what was going through his head."

In 2001, Evan helped found an after-school nonviolence program named after a college student shot and killed by a 14-year-old gang member, said Alexis Lukas, the program supervisor.

"He really was a young peacemaker," Lukas said. "It was a group of kids that are sick of people treated badly, sick of violence. None of them believed in guns or gun violence."

Evan was jogging with about a dozen members of the cross-country team in the quiet community of Ocean Beach when the shooting occurred.

Peter Balestrieri, 19, said he came upon the scene after the first shots and saw the fallen boy still moving. The shooter then walked up and fired shots into the boy's head, he said.

"He wasn't twitching any more," Balestrieri said.

Hoffine drove about a mile to the home of a friend and told her what he had done before allowing the woman and her daughter to leave, Hurley said.

A SWAT team surrounded the home, and negotiators spoke with Hoffine through a bullhorn and by telephone. Inside the home, Hoffine called several friends and family members and told them what he had done, Hurley said. Several nearby homes were evacuated.

Early Friday morning, the SWAT team burst in and found Hoffine dead. Hurley said no note had been found.

Two neighboring schools were briefly locked down. Members of the cross-country team were questioned by police and then met with grief counselors.

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