Police shot two men who allegedly went berserk in separate incidents near beaches less than a mile apart Thursday, killing one man and seriously wounding the other, authorities said.
Santa Monica police officers fatally wounded a 29-year-old man in front of the busy Santa Monica Place shopping center Thursday afternoon, and a Los Angeles police officer shot and wounded a man who allegedly was taunting and attacking bicyclists and beach-goers near Will Rogers State Beach.
Sgt. Steven Brackett said the Santa Monica incident began about 1:50 p.m. when John Macias of Pico Rivera inexplicably grabbed a pedestrian walking near the top of the ramp leading to the Santa Monica Pier and threw him onto the street while yelling something about God.
Brackett said Macias next approached an unarmed security guard who happened to be at the pier and attacked him, throwing him over the railing of the ramp. The guard, Alex Villanueva, grabbed the railing and dangled about 30 feet above the ground.
Brackett said Macias pried the guard’s fingers off the rail, forcing him to fall to the ground. Villanueva, 42, of Arleta, was in fair condition at UCLA Medical Center with fractures to both ankles and feet.
Macias fled east on Colorado Avenue. In front of the shopping center, he began trying to open doors of parked vehicles.
As police chased him, Macias again began yelling something about God, Brackett said. Macias, who had a jacket wrapped around his hand, stopped and turned toward the officers.
One officer shot Macias once, but he continued to advance, police said. The officer fired three more shots as Macias grabbed him, and both men fell to the ground.
Macias died at a nearby hospital from bullet wounds to his neck and chest.
In the later incident, a Los Angeles police officer shot and wounded a man who reportedly had been yelling and attacking beach-goers and bicyclists near a lifeguard station at Pacific Coast Highway and West Channel Road. Witnesses said the officer fired three shots after the man knocked him to the ground.
“It was absolute self-defense,” said Stan Lelewer, a bicyclist who said he had been attacked by the unidentified man. “This guy was huge, and he was going after the policeman,” Lelewer said. “He had to shoot him.”
Lelewer and several other witnesses said the man who was shot at 5:40 p.m. had been screaming loudly and attacking bike riders and others on the beach.
“Another guy told me, ‘Look out, there’s a crazy guy,’ ” Lelewer said. “So I rode by him very carefully trying not to make eye contact. He kicked at me, and then he laughed something unintelligible. Then I saw him chase after another bicyclist.”
“He was over 6-foot tall and yelling at the top of his lungs . . . and running around like a wild man,” said Christopher Smith, who had been playing volleyball nearby. “The officer stopped his car and got out, and the crazy guy started swinging at him. The officer swung back four or five times with his club, but the wild guy reached back and got the cop on the ground. Then we heard the shots.”
Witnesses said the officer, who was not identified by police, was assisted by a bicyclist who threw his bike at the assailant when he saw the officer on the ground. That distraction allowed the officer time to get up and fire, witnesses said.
The unidentified man was taken to UCLA Medical Center, where his condition was not immediately disclosed.
Times staff writer Mathis Chazanov and community correspondent Shawn Doherty contributed to this story.