Killed - September 12, 1990
DEPUTY GUNNED DOWN
APPARENT ASSAILANT ALSO KILLED IN HAIL OF BULLETS
SHOOTOUT ERUPTED AFTER OFFICER STOPPED A CAR IN DRUG AREA
A veteran Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy was gunned down and killed shortly before midnight in a gun battle that also left his apparent assailant dead on a dark street in the Burbank area of San Jose.
Deputy Paul Robert Bush, 37, who had been with the department for 12years and was the father of a 9-month-old son, was shot four times in the11:20 p.m. incident Wednesday at Scott Street and Chiechi Avenue, San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara said today.
Fellow officers, called to the scene by a frantic bystander using the dying officer's hand-held radio, tried to revive Bush. Several feet away, suspected assailant Oscar Romero lay dying.
Romero, of Lone Bluff Way in the Edenvale area of San Jose, turned 22Wednesday, according to police.
A witness said that Bush didn't have his gun out when Romero suddenly pulled a weapon and opened fire.
Police said they were not certain why Bush had pulled over the car Romero and another man were in. However, a warrant had earlier been issued for Romero's arrest in connection with a commercial burglary.
Based on interviews with witnesses, McNamara said six shots were fired at Bush and one witness, Sam Tobias, 23, of Santa Clara, said he saw the officer fall first, then the apparent assailant.
Bush ''was on his way down, he was falling back,'' said Tobias, who was talking on the phone in his apartment building across the street when he heard gunfire. ''The other guy (was) still standing, then he fell. I ran in side to call 911. It was busy, then I came back outside.''
Bush was not wearing a protective vest, which is optional in the sheriff's department.
The case is being investigated by San Jose police because the shooting took place within the city limits.
McNamara said according to witnesses, the shooting developed as follows: Bush pulled his patrol car up behind Romero's car, got out of the car and stood behind his open door, ordering the two men onto the sidewalk. Once the men were on the sidewalk, Bush apparently approached them andobtained some identification from Romero. McNamara said Romero's driver's license was later found on the hood of the deputy's car. Romero emptied six shots from a .38 caliber revolver, McNamara said. Early indications are that Bush was hit by four bullets -- in the sternum, right knee, right chest and in the upper hip. Romero was struck in the hand and heart. All the shots were fired either by Romero or Bush, police said. ''Bush demonstrated incredible courage and stamina being able to return fire,'' McNamara said. McNamara said the passenger in Romero's car left the scene. He is still being sought.
Most of the neighborhood near San Carlos Street and Meridian Avenue --near one of several islands of unincorporated property -- where the shooting occurred is very quiet and neighborly, except for an area bounded by Chiechi and Willard avenues and Scott street. There, residents say, drug traffic is rampant, and police patrols frequent the area.
Deputy Tim Shannon confirmed today that ''the drug problem is a major one in that particular area.''
Both victims died at Valley Medical Center, Romero at 11:55 p.m. and Bush at 12:01 a.m., according to the Santa Clara County Coroner's office.
Source: SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, September 13, 1990, By Cathie Calvert and Bill Romano
SLAIN DEPUTY KNOWN FOR KINDNESS
Sheriff's Deputy Paul Robert Bush was a burly weightlifter, but he often used his easy charm instead of muscle in defusing confrontations on the street.
Yet it appears the veteran lawman had little chance to speak to the young man he pulled over on a routine traffic stop Wednesday night. Investigators believe that Bush had just gotten Oscar Romero's driver's license when the man pulled a gun and began blazing away. In seconds, both men lay dying on the ground.
Family and friends recalled the 37-year-old San Jose man as a dedicated, streetwise deputy who never let the difficulty of police work sour his giddylust for life.
''He realized there was a significant amount of danger to what he was doing, but he always considered himself very careful in what he did,'' said Scotts Valley police Capt. Tom Bush, one of the deputy's three brothers. ''He had such an ability to interact with people . . . that he felt he could pretty much talk his way out of any situation. He was able to talk to people in all walks of life.''
Bush was a 12-year veteran who had enjoyed working a variety of assignments, including a six-year patrol stint, plainclothes duty tracking down fugitives and a tour as a jailer. He occasionally wore a bulletproof vest, but wasn't using one Wednesday night when he was wounded twice in the chest and once in the hip and the leg, said sheriff's Sgt. Ken Kahn. Use of vests is voluntary in the department.
Bush's death seemed doubly cruel, coming just eight months after he and wife, Colleen, celebrated the birth of their first child, Brett. ''The son was the highlight of his life,'' Tom Bush said as relatives gathered Thursday afternoon at the Soquel home of his parents, Charles and Isabelle Bush. ''For the past eight months, all he could talk about was his son and his wife. ''Another brother, Steve Bush, said he felt ''just tremendous anger'' when he heard the news of his brother's death. ''You want to hit something,'' he said.
At the sheriff's department, a somber mood muffled the typically informal atmosphere. Issie Mosunic, a warrants clerk who worked with Bush, said, ''He was always happy, always kidding around. He always treated me like his mom. He was just a real caring, loving individual. ''Despite their sorrow, many friends smiled when asked what they remembered about Bush. He was a guy with a mischievous streak and a winning wit. Sgt. Bill Cordoni, who supervised Bush when he worked in the warrants division, recalled the slain deputy as a ''happy-go- lucky guy'' who ''used to pull all kinds of practical jokes on the guys.'' Once, when a detective reneged on a promise, Bush and his partner filled their colleague's car with styrofoam pellets, Cordoni recalled.
Bush was born in Long Beach and moved with his family to San Jose in the early 1960s. He graduated in 1971 from Branham High School and attended West Valley and Cabrillo colleges, where he played football. He joined the sheriff's department in 1978.Bush loved classical music and was fascinated by Civil War history, taking his wife to visit historic sites while on vacation.
Sheriff Charles Gillingham said Bush's work file is thick with letters of praise from citizens lauding his ''great sensitivity and understanding of the situation'' and his ''kindness and thoroughness. ''He was an excellent officer for us,'' Gillingham said Thursday. ''His evaluations were always exceptional. It's a real sad day for all of us.''
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, September 14, 1990, By Alan Gathright and Joanne Grant