A man who was killed in confrontation with a San Jose SWAT team was armed with a gun that only fired blanks and had sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl he had abducted from his ex-girlfriend’s home, police said Monday.
Police Chief Chris Moore told a morning news conference that the suspect -- Tri Truong Le – was armed with a gun that looked authentic.
“It (the weapon) is designed to look and function just as a firearm would,” he said. “It does in fact eject spent casings. There is a muzzle flash. So if you are at the other end of this particular weapon, you are not going to know what it is.”
Moore lauded the officers would were in the house and had engaged with Le in what appeared to be an exchange of close quarters gunfire.
“What is very clear through this entire incident is the extraordinary work of the men and women and the bravery that was exhibited,” he told reporters. “In the face of gunfire coming straight at their face, they understood what was at stake…The team that went into that house knew that they were engaged in an armed confrontation to save that girl…These officers are heroes.”
Acting deputy chief Eddie Garcia said the fatal shot was fired only after the girl had separated herself from the suspect.
“One of our officers fired two rounds at the suspect, but the suspect was able to get out of the way,” he told reporters. “The suspect continued to fire his firearm at the officers as they continued to advance on the threat. Our point officer continued to get closer to the suspect. At one point, the victim was able to get away from the suspect. He (the police officer) fired one round at the suspect from his rifle – mortally wounding the suspect.”
Garcia said the girl was never endangered by the shot fired by police. She had gotten behind the officers.
He also said the toll could have been much greater.
“If he had the weapon that fired bullets, we would have had some injured officers,” Garcia said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
Authorities also disclosed that the girl had been sexually assaulted after she was abducted.
The 11-year-old girl was kidnapped at gunpoint early Friday after Le had stormed into her family's home on the 2600 block of Taffy Court.
Authorities said he held the fake pistol to the head of the girl's father and then forced his way into the 11-year-old’s bedroom. He then abducted her from the home at gunpoint.
Acting on a tip, Le and the girl were traced to a townhouse in the 3400 block of Pistachio Drive.
A confrontation occurred between SWAT officers and Le. Authorities said Le stood at a bedroom window with an arm around the girl and began firing at the officers as they approached.
Police forced entry into the residence and Le continued to shoot at the officers while holding the victim hostage.
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