Gunfire erupted on the beach around 9 p.m. Saturday when two parties got into an argument surrounding a bonfire, San Diego police Lt. Ken Impellizeri said at a press conference.
Three people were struck and transported to area hospitals. KFMB-TV reported that two suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, while a third person was in critical condition.
Addressing reporters at the scene, Impellizeri said the initial call dispatched to law enforcement agencies might have used to word "mass shooting," but this was not a mass shooting incident.
"It was really not a mass shooting. It was shooting between two parties at the beach, or at the bay," he said. "The important thing is there’s no threat to public safety at this point."
One of the people shot is believed to have played a larger role in the incident and was "not just a victim," Impellizeri added, according to KUSI.
Video from the scene showed a large law enforcement presence, as well as people being loaded into an ambulance and at least one person in handcuffs.
KGTV reported that a suspect was being escorted by officers to UC San Diego Medical Center.
Dozens of law enforcement officers from several agencies responded to the scene, KNSD reported. The shooting is believed to have happened by the bay near The Bay Club Hotel & Marina.
Shelter Island, a neighborhood of Point Loma in San Diego set on a narrow strip of land connected to the mainland, was temporarily shut down, reportedly leaving some hotel guests stranded.
The incident remains under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.