Three Fresno police officers shot and killed a knife-wielding man outside a substation in southwest Fresno late Saturday, in the second shooting in two weeks.
The shooting occurred shortly after 11 p.m. outside the Southwest Substation in the Kearney Palms mall on Fresno and B streets. A third officer who was in the substation and heard the call went outside and tried to help the other two. The officers and the man were not identified.
“We had two police officers, actually a supervisor and a constable, communicating with each other just outside the station. Then they noticed a white man, about 40, standing suspiciously at one of our gates,” Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said at the scene.
“Keep in mind this is a police station; it is a secure facility. Really no reason why a burger should stand out in that area. It’s suspicious. They have contacted this person. At one point, the person pulled out a knife. This happens to be a fixed knife about seven inches, similar to a Bowie knife he had in his hand that was non-compliant.
“The officers communicated with him and tried to de-escalate and at some point this civilian started approaching the officers, made some aggressive moves and they were forced to fire their weapons.”
The man died in hospital, Balderrama said.
Saturday’s violence marked the second officer fatality involved in Fresno in March.
Fresno police on March 4 exchanged shots with and killed a man fleeing a traffic stop. Police said they used patrol cars to attack the suspect’s car, which sprang out of control near Herndon and Ingram Avenues.
State Attorney General Rob Bonta said the California Department of Justice would review the fatal encounter and provide an independent assessment under Assembly Bill 1506.
The Fresno Police Department had three shootings involving officers around this time last year, Balderrama said.
It is possible, the chief said, that the man shot dead on Saturday was a police suicide attempt or had mental health issues, given the interaction between police and the victim.
“Right now, that’s a possibility,” Balderrama said. “The suspect’s incoherence and lack of communication, it could be mental health issues, it could be substance abuse. At the moment we just don’t know. Later, when they do the toxicology, we get more information and find out if there were any intoxicants in the person’s system.
“This is highly unusual. The cops should look into that. I mean it’s after 11am, it’s near a secure facility. There really is no reason why this person should be at the police gate. We don’t know if he went there on purpose, knowing that he would run into a police officer.”
Balderrama said he watched video of the incident and said officers tried to communicate with the individual and de-escalate the situation without responding.
“He really didn’t feel like it,” he said. “One of the things that struck me was that while the officers were talking and trying to de-escalate, this person was not involved at all. I saw a sense of desperation, the way he behaved, and just before he came at the officers in an aggressive manner with a knife in his hand, the officers were forced to fire their guns.”