Cruise Ship Performer Goes Overboard and is Then Shot by Police
It's a tragedy within a mystery. And officials in San Diego admit they may never be able to figure it out. It happened during the weekend when a 37-year-old hired to dance for patrons onboard a cruise ship suddenly and inexplicably decided to dive overboard. But that was just the beginning of the end for Steven Hirschfield.
The local performer and bodybuilder was hired to be part of the entertainment for about 900 people involved in a weekend of gay pride celebrations on Saturday.
Around 11pm, police received a 911 call telling them someone had deliberately climbed over the railing of the giant vessel and jumped into the water.
Rescue boats were quickly dispatched and despite the darkness, they were able to locate the man overboard. But when they tried to pull Hirschfield - wearing only sneakers and a pair of shorts - onto the rescue ship, he began resisting, fighting them at every turn.
He refused to take hold of any of the flotation devices they threw out and he wouldn't reach out to the rescue ship sent to grab him.
"He didn't want to come aboard," reports Jim Unger of Hornblower Cruises, which was behind the party. "There was something wrong. Logically, when people go in the water, if they fell or didn't want to be there, they would quickly want to get help."
It took several minutes for the soaked submariner to be coaxed into hanging onto a rope - a literal lifeline - that he was offered by authorities, who finally hauled him onto a police boat. And it was there that this already strange story took a more fatal turn. Once out of danger from the water, police say Hirschfield grabbed a cop's stun gun and began beating the policeman in the face. He then apparently tried to reach for the battered lawman's side arm. When he refused orders to stop, a fellow officer pulled out his own gun and fired, striking the rescued man in the chest. The wound proved fatal.
The beaten officer was treated for leg and facial injures but will be O.K. Now, several days later, authorities are still stumped about the man's actions and the reasons why he did it. But the motive appears to have died with him. Drug involvement is suspected but toxicology reports won't be available until next month. Hirschfield was arrested for possessing a controlled substance in 2004, but all charges were dropped two years later after he agreed to attend an 18-month drug rehab program.