An unarmed 73-year-old man whose family said was in the initial stages of dementia was shot and killed early Monday by a Bakersfield police officer, authorities said.
Police responded about 12:30 a.m. to a report of a man brandishing a handgun in the 7900 block of Silver Birch Avenue, a neighborhood in the southwest corner of the city, Bakersfield police Sgt. Gary Carruesco said.
When police arrived, a witness pointed to a man in the driveway of a residence. An officer fired several rounds at the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Kern County coroner’s office identified the man as Francisco Serna. A retired father of five children, Serna lived on the block where the shooting occurred, his son, Rogelio Serna, told The Times.
Police said the call was prompted by a report of a man with a firearm, but investigators canvassed the area after the shooting and did not recover a gun, Carruesco said. Police searched the family’s home and cars and did not recover a firearm, Rogelio Serna said.
It’s unclear why Serna was outside or why the officer opened fire.
Serna’s son said his father was showing the early signs of dementia and occasionally experienced delusions. The elder Serna also had difficulty sleeping and frequently went on late-night walks to tire himself out before bed, his son said.
“My dad did not own a gun. He was a 73-year-old retired grandpa, just living life,” Rogelio Serna said. “He should have been surrounded by family at old age, not surrounded by bullets.”
The elder Serna lived with his wife and one of his daughters. Another son lives a few blocks from where the shooting occurred. Rogelio Serna said his parents moved into Bakersfield about eight years ago, leaving Wasco so they could be closer to their children.
Serna worked for years at a cotton gin in McFarland and retired in the early to mid-2000s, his son said. He had shown signs of dementia since 2015, but his symptoms seemed more pronounced in the past month.
Bakersfield police had visited Francisco Serna’s home at least two times before, because his father would become confused and activate a medical alarm, Rogelio Serna said. It’s unclear if the alarm was the call that prompted police to respond early Monday.
Carruesco did not immediately confirm if officers had visited the home before. The officer involved in the shooting was placed on administrative leave while the incident is being reviewed, a routine procedure, Carruesco said.