A police standoff with a heavily armed man in a residential area of Union City ended in tragedy Saturday when officers fatally shot him after he refused to drop his weapons, according to police.
The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m., when several officers responding to reports of a man firing a gun at a residence on Kenita Way, near Medallion Drive, said Cmdr. Ben Horner of the Union City Police.
“I'm hearing somewhere in the area of fifteen to twenty five shots, in the neighborhood, prior to our officers arriving,” said Horner.
Upon arrival, officers located a man with a firearm in each of his hands on the front lawn of one of many homes in the neighborhood and told him to drop his weapon, said Horner.
The man refused and at some point he reportedly made a motion that resulted in officers opening fire on him, according to witnesses.
“He was screaming, ‘Shoot me! Shoot me! I'll get a lawyer!’ and then he went for his pocket when police finally took him down,” said one witness.
The man was declared dead at the scene.
No other injuries were reported and as of 6 p.m., investigators were still on scene and the block was taped off.
Neighbors described the suspect as a 47-year-old man who in recent months had returned from out of state and moved back in with relatives, in the house he grew up in.
“I just remember him being a nice guy at school,” said Juan Palomares, a neighbor. “They said, ‘Put the gun down!’ and he didn't want to let go of the gun. He lifted it up, like he was going to shoot himself I guess, and they opened fire on him.”
Neighbors told KTVU that since his return, the unidentified gunman had seemed troubled, even paranoid.
Witnesses also reported seeing a woman in handcuffs in the back of a patrol car.
Officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave, as per normal procedure, while the shooting was investigated by the police department and by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, Cmdr. Jared Rinetti said.
"They felt that they were either in danger of being shot, or they had to stop him prior to him getting into the community here," Horner said during media briefing.
Horner later said that officers are aware a “suicide by cop” situation may goad them into shooting and though negotiation is another option, much of the time an officer's reaction comes from a split-second decision.
“The officers train for those situations but they unfold very very quickly,” said Horner.
Anyone with information on this incident or who witnessed it should call police at (510) 471-1365. Anonymous tips can be left at (510) 675-5207.
Medallion Drive between Alvarado-Niles and Almaden Roads was closed throughout the evening while the shooting was investigated.
Saturday's officer-involved shooting in Union City was the second this year for the city's police force.
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