Police ID Navy sailor fatally shot when he answered knock at door

Cornelius Donte Brown

Alex Riggins

The San Diego Union-Tribune

A man who was shot and killed Saturday after answering an early morning knock at the door of his La Mesa apartment was an active duty Navy petty officer from South Carolina, according to La Mesa police and Navy officials.

Cornelius Donte Brown

Corneilius Donte Brown, 22, was an aviation ordnanceman 3rd class assigned to the San Diego-based aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, according to Navy spokesman Brian O’Rourke.

“This is a deep and tragic loss for the Abraham Lincoln family,” O’Rourke said Tuesday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Petty Officer Brown’s family and loved ones.”

A La Mesa police lieutenant said Saturday that shortly before 12:30 a.m. that morning, Brown was at home with others when he received a knock on the door of his Echo Court apartment.

Witnesses told investigators that when Brown opened the door, there were two men wearing black ski masks and black hooded sweatshirts, one of whom immediately squeezed off three shots, according to Lt. Greg Runge. Brown was struck twice before the surprise visitors ran away.

Several 911 callers reported the gunshots, and officers found Brown unresponsive with wounds to his chest and neck, Runge said Saturday. He was taken to a hospital, where he died in surgery.

Police were provided little description of the shooter and his companion and have been unable to determine a possible motive.

“There is no further update to provide on this case at this time,” Runge said in a news release Tuesday, adding that detectives are continuing their investigation and “seeking the public’s assistance regarding this crime.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact La Mesa police at (619) 667-1400 or lamesatips@cityoflamesa.us. Tipsters can also call San Diego County Crime Stoppers’ anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.

Staff writer Andrew Dyer contributed to this report.

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