BADGE 101, ID 8131
SDPD 10/27/1980 - 05/26/2000
1948 - 05/26/2000
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Eugene J. Wolberg loved guns and made a national reputation for himself as an expert on how firearms worked and how they were used in crimes.

A criminalist specializing in guns, ballistics and crime-scene reconstruction, Mr. Wolberg worked for the San Diego Police Department for almost 20 years in the department's firearms laboratory.

He died May 25 in his sleep at his home in Vista. The cause of death was listed as heart failure. He was 52.

Mr. Wolberg's friends and colleagues said his sense of humor was legendary, as were his right-wing politics and belief in the sanctity of the right to bear arms.

He was a great witness, local prosecutors said, and testified hundreds of times in court.

"He was the expert," said Deputy District Attorney Garland Peed, who worked for years with Mr. Wolberg on gang shooting cases. "We used to call him the 'god of guns.' "

Jim Stam, Mr. Wolberg's supervisor at the Police Department for the past decade, said: "His true love was firearms and forensics. In San Diego he basically put together our firearms unit the way it's operating today.

"His politics were basically to the right of Genghis Khan, but he was one of the most loveable guys you'd ever want to meet."

Mr. Wolberg was born and raised in Dickinson, N.D., and spent four years in the Navy after graduating from high school. He later attended San Diego State University and worked for the El Cajon Police Department for three years before joining the San Diego Police Department in 1980.

He was one of the first people to use lasers to show the trajectory of bullets and testified in many high-profile cases in San Diego, including the trials of Elizabeth "Betty" Broderick and Sagon Penn.

He was also much sought after as an expert witness in civil cases across the country, recognized as one of the leaders in his field.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Carleton knew Mr. Wolberg for more than 20 years.

"We've lost one of the country's finest firearms experts," Carleton said. "He had vast knowledge, was enthusiastic, and was a great teacher and witness. He had uncompromising integrity and would always call it like he saw it."

Mr. Wolberg is survived by his wife, Rena; sons, Jonathan and Christopher; parents, Joseph and Mildred Wolberg; brother, Jerry; and sister, Donna.