A man who followed a worker into the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday morning was shot and killed by a California Highway Patrol officer, authorities said.
The building was not open to the public when the man followed an employee into the building just after 6 a.m. and kept his hands concealed in a bag, said CHP Sgt. Saul Gomez. The man then shouted at employees at a security checkpoint to “get down on the floor.”
“He was taking an aggressive shooting stance,” and employees dropped to the ground, Gomez said.
That’s when a CHP officer confronted the man, who was about 40 years old. The man raised his hands toward the officer, who fired, fatally striking him, the sergeant said. The officer was not injured, and the man has not been identified.
After processing the scene for evidence, authorities found that the man had been holding an aluminum can concealed within the paper bag, according to the CHP.
Authorities do not think the man is from California, Gomez said, nor do they think he traveled to California to target the building.
“That would be a stretch to determine that,” Gomez said.
“At that point, when the confrontation occurred between the CHP officer and the suspect, the CHP officer took it upon himself to make that decision that there was grave danger to the public and himself,” Gomez said.
Authorities initially said three shots were fired. But they now believe up to five shots were fired.
According to the sergeant, the man had exchanged words with other people inside the building. It is unclear when he made those remarks. Gomez did not provide details about what was said.
Although investigators were still combing through a list of 2,700 employees, Gomez said, they do not think the man was an employee in the building.
CHP investigators were looking into the man’s past to determine whether had “a gripe with anyone in the building,” the sergeant said.
According to the CHP, the officer put out a call for help over the radio just after 6 a.m. Moments later, the officer reported the shooting and a “suspect down,” CHP Officer Peter Nicholson said.
As the investigation got underway inside the state building, the scene outside was chaotic.
A stretch of Spring Street between 3rd and 4th streets was closed to vehicles, backing up traffic throughout the downtown area. A throng of CHP vehicles and undercover law enforcement cars filled the street, which was surrounded by crime scene tape.
As officers swarmed the building, business professionals with briefcases and employees carrying sack lunches made their way through the only open entrance on Spring Street. A woman with tears rolling down her face walked out of the building and was consoled by a friend.
The woman declined to talk. The woman’s friend said the events had triggered a lot of memories for her.
Employees said the building’s entrance is equipped with security cameras that probably captured the incident. They said witnesses had indicated that the man yelled out that he had a gun.
The building houses the state 2nd District Court of Appeal, the California Department of General Services, an office for Gov. Jerry Brown and other state agencies.
To enter the building, employees have to pass through a security checkpoint and show credentials, said Gomez, a CHP spokesman.
The CHP is responsible for securing the building and monitoring the safety of the public and employees, he said.
6:10 p.m.: This article was updated to reflect the man was holding an aluminum can.
12:25 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with additional details of the shooting and the aftermath.
10:30 a.m.: This article was updated throughout with additional details of the shooting and the aftermath.
9:40 a.m.: This article was updated throughout with additional details of the shooting.
9:15 a.m.: This article was updated with details on the man who was shot.
8:15 a.m.: This article was updated throughout with details of the shooting.
This article was originally published at 7 a.m.