Man killed by police near Napa elementary school

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NAPA (KTVU) -- What began as 9-1-1- calls reporting gunfire, ended with Napa Police officers shooting and killing a man in a residential neighborhood Tuesday.

"It sounded like a battle, back and forth, like a little war," witness Rich Hamilton told KTVU, as he waited for a police escort to his home, inside the cordoned-off crime scene.

The volley of shots rang out at about 2:30 pm.

Residents of the 2300 block of Linda Vista Avenue were shocked to find a silver Honda Civic crashed into a tree, it's driver dead behind the wheel.

"I saw him drive by at a normal speed, and when he got to the police officers, he didn't stop for them and they started firing at him," described Hamilton.

"There were police officers on the ground behind cars, trying to shoot at the car, and then I heard fifteen shots or so, and that was pretty scary," added wife Brittani Hamilton.  

Napa's Police Chief Steve Potter told KTVU the deadly force was neccesary because the suspect fired first.

"Anytime we have a situation like this, our hearts go out to the families," said Potter, "but what it really comes down to: he fired at the officers, many shots fired by him."

Chief Potter said officers, along with Napa County Sheriff's Deputies, responded to the West Napa street because there were 911 calls about a man shooting a gun.

It may have begun with a dispute between neighbors, but as police set up a perimeter and tried to evaluate the situation, the suspect backed the vehicle out of his garage. 

"He left the area and as he drove out of the area, he began to shoot at the officers," explained, Potter, "and this horrific for police officers to go through, to have somebody  shooting at them."

A few officers were cut by glass or shrapnel.

No one else in the neighborhood was injured.

During the gun battle, West Park Elementary School, a block away, went into lock-down.

Students were kept more than an hour past their normal dismissal time.

They described how they knelt under their desks, doors locked, and rooms darkened, until the all clear.    

"Everybody in my class was really scared," third-grade student Sadie Bartel told KTVU, "and some were crying because it was really scary." 

At Sadie's side, her uncle, who was relieved to finally pick her up at 4 pm.

"It's scary when you're completely helpless like that," admitted Mike Westerberg, " and this is little old Napa, we don't think of Napa like this."

Napa County's Major Crimes task force, and the District Attorney's Office, are  investigating the use of force and what led to it. 

They were not commenting Tuesday evening, even as the car sat undisturbed, draped by a tarp, and more than eighty evidence markers covered the street. 

"It's crazy, it's kind of disturbing," resident Brian Roche told KTVU, as he waited with other residents for a police escort to allow him into his home as darkness fell.

Like others on the block, Roche wanted to pick up some overnight items and leave until the investigation is finished.  

"My wife and kids, they're a little panicked right now," said Roche, "because we just don't have this in Napa, and to have it on our street, is a little freaky."

This is Napa's second fatal police encounter in a few weeks.

In March, two officers shot and killed a young homeless man who they say had a knife and was terrorizing shoppers in a parking lot.

That shooting too, remains under review.    

A name or age on the new fatality has not yet been released.