Suspect shot dead in officer-involved shooting was waving a pellet gun, police say

Crime

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Fresno Police have identified the type of weapon involved in a Sunday night officer-involved shooting, which ended with the death of a 55-year-old man. Officers say the gun the suspect was seen waving was a pellet gun.

The man has been identified as 55-year-old Gerald Johnson of Fresno.

After more than two hours of negotiating, three Fresno Police officers shot and killed Johnson when he waved the gun at them. The suspect is said to have been under the influence of PCP at the time.

Deputy Chief Michael Reid said 911 calls from a home on the 2900 block of East Gilbert Avenue first came in at 7:25 p.m. A woman called saying her son was possibly high on PCP and was threatening family members with a shovel.

Once officers arrived, Reid said, the suspect moved into an abandoned vehicle in the backyard — covering the windows with blankets, towels and other items near the vehicle.

For the next hour and 50 minutes, officers tried to calm the suspect down with their crisis intervention training. Crisis negotiators were also called to calm the suspect down, with no luck.

During all of this, officers did notice a gun in the suspect’s hand. By the 2 hour and 6 minute mark, the suspect stopped responding to officers so three began to approach the vehicle he was in, Reid said.

This is when the suspect raised the weapon, prompting the officers to fire at the suspect. Reid said the officers feared for their lives.

Deputy Chief Michel Reid said this is the gun the suspect waved at officers.

“These decisions are very difficult for officers. The amount of emotional stress that comes with [shooting someone] is a significant amount,” he said. “If somebody presents a firearm and levels it at an officer, there is very little recourse but to respond with deadly force.”

EMS was already on-scene and immediately began lifesaving efforts on the suspect, before taking him to Community Regional Medical Center. That is where he passed away.

The officers who fired were a police sergeant with 15 years experience, and two special response team members with five and six years experience.

The suspect has been in contact with police before for mental health-related issues. He also had a history of assaulting peace officers, according to Reid.

Fresno Police Department Chaplaincy did dispatch to the scene around 10:30 p.m. to offer resources and counseling to the family.

Investigators are expected to be at the scene for the next 24 to 48 hours at least. Aside from crime scene evidence, body camera footage will be looked at to find any statements by the suspect.

All firing officers are now on administrative leave, per department policy.

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