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SAN ANTONIO --A Balcones Heights police officerwas gunned down outside a tattoo parlor late Sunday night.

Officer Julian Pesina, a seven-year veteran of the department, was shot and killed shortlyafter he finished his shift.

Pesina had a passion for tattoos, and the tattooshop was a favorite hangout of his. Pesina was a tattoo artist and spent the majority of his time at the shop, the Balcones Heights police chief said. He was believed to be a co-owner of the tattoo parlor.

The shooting happened around 10 p.m. Sunday at a tattoo parlor in the 300 block of Shadyview Drive off of Hillcrest Drive.

San Antonio police were handling the investigation.

Pesinahad just walked out of the shop when two masked men, both armed, one with a 12-gauge shotgun and the other with a 9 mm handgun, approached him and started shooting, police said.

Pesina was shot six to nine times, investigators said.

Pesina was taken to University Hospital, where he died an hour later.

Although the area was SAPD's jurisdiction, Balcones Heights police officers responded to the scene and immediately realized the victim was one of their own. The Balcones Heights police chief said his men tried to revivePesina until EMS arrived.

It's very difficult, said Henry Dominguez, Balcones Heights police chief. That's one of the hardest things we have to do is investigate a crime scene involving one of our own. It's draining mentally and physically.

Police did not say whether or not this was a planned attack or a random shooting.

It's not clear whether any words were exchanged before the shooting, but Pesinadid not have time to pull out his gun, which he had on him, poilce said.

The gunmen took off in a late-model sedan, police said.

Two witnesses were taken downtown for questioning, but they weren't able to give a good description of the shooters, police said.

Investigators are still looking for the gunmen.

Dominguez said a grief counselor will be on hand to help officers deal with this tragic death.

He said if there is evidence that this was some sort of retaliation for suspects Pesina may have arrested or been in contact with, his department will be part of that investigation.

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