SAN JOSE, Calif. - Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the first incident of an officer-involved shooting of a suspect on the VTA system.
The violent confrontation happened 8:40 p.m. on Wednesday. Investigators said the private contract security officer ordered the suspect to stop several times. But he didn’t, and that’s when lethal force was used.
“You used to be able to go places without worrying if someone was going to attack you. Now you have to be aware 24-seven,” said VTA light rail passenger Natalie Martinez.
Early Thursday afternoon, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s investigators and VTA personnel removed a security hard-drive that may contain footage from the fatal officer-involved shooting. Investigators said the deadly confrontation took place on the platform of the Santa Teresa station in South San Jose.
Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Sgt. Michael Low said the unidentified male suspect, armed with two knives, a pair of scissors, and a metal bicycle lock cord, was threatening passengers. A contract security guard with Allied Universal Security was the first to arrive and approach the suspect.
“Within a few moments, that suspect was advancing toward that security officer with the knives in hand. And I would say he closed in to approximately five-to-10 feet before the security officer had to discharge his firearm,” said Low.
The suspect was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
VTA officials said roughly 29,000 passengers ride its light rail lines daily, and that this is the first fatal officer-involved shooting. Some regular riders are stunned by the developments.
“It does worry me. I don’t know what the circumstances were. If he was purposely trying to harm people. It’s really scary,” said VTA light rail passenger Gina Schaub.
VTA officials declined to comment on-camera but said the crime scene was cleared in time for Thursday’s morning commute.
The security company emailed a statement reading in part its officer, “…discharged his firearm after being threatened by an individual wielding…a knife.”
“We do work very closely with the security officers at the VTA, and often times they are the ones reporting these crimes to us for us to respond,” said Low.
But Wednesday night, the private security officer arrived first and engaged the suspect. The Santa Clara County coroner will release the identification once family is notified. Investigators hope they can learn more from the surveillance video from the station cameras.