Visalia police say suspect shot by an officer on Friday afternoon was a drug dealer with a long criminal history. He's identified as Armando Santibanez, 22, of Visalia. Detectives had been tracking the suspected drug dealer since December.
Leftover crime scene tape on a tree Monday, indicates were Visalia police shot and killed Santibanez three days earlier. Police Chief Colleen Mestas says officers tried to pull him over to make an arrest.
"When we initially contacted him, he immediately was defiant to the commands of our officer. He began to roll up the window, he began to rev the vehicle," said Mestas.
Santibanez had a loaded gun on the floorboard and appeared to be reaching for it. One officer fired five rounds. The incident ended a two-month long investigation. Detectives had been watching him make suspected drug deals from his apartment, which was less than a mile away from where he was ultimately shot.
"I think it's crazy; it's unbelievable. I've been living here about seven months. He moved in, seemed like a nice guy. I never had any problems with him," said Juan Colon, the suspect's next-door neighbor.
Colon says the only strange thing he noticed was that the suspect had a different new car every couple weeks. Police say they were rental cars, which is a common was for drug dealers to move their merchandise.
Santibanez had a long history with law enforcement. Police say he was arrested five times for drug possession and once for rape. Search warrants revealed 46 grams of meth and 4.5 grams of marijuana laced with meth.
"I'm glad [Santibanez isn't] living here anymore, obviously, because I have a nephew who lives here and it's not safe for a family," said Colon.
A family having a picnic at the park is just glad the shooting didn't spill over to the nearby Mitchell Elementary School.
"I was like, 'I hope it's not an incident at the school,' so that was the only thing that came to my mind," said Teresa Zaragoza, who lives in the neighborhood.
Chief Mestas also said she believes the officer involved in the shooting did the right thing to protect lives.