A Northridge teen-ager who stole a rifle and a box of ammunition from a local gun shop was shot and seriously wounded Wednesday when he pointed the unloaded weapon at a police officer searching for him, authorities said.
Kimyadaa Church, 18, was wounded in the face and abdomen in the 11:30 a.m. shooting in a condominium complex at 9000 Vanalden Ave. He was in serious condition at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, police said.
Church had stolen a rifle about 30 minutes earlier from the National Gun Shop in the 18500 block of Parthenia Street, Lt. William Hall said. Church had asked to look at a .22-caliber hunting rifle in the store and then grabbed a box of ammunition and ran out, Hall said.
"Why he did it, we don't know," Hall said.
Several motorists in the area called police to report a man running with a gun, and patrol officers spotted Church running through an open field off Vanalden and began to close in on him in the condominium complex near Nordhoff Street.
Officers first sighted him hiding in bushes, but he then ran farther into the complex. Hall said Officer Michael Soper, 29, an eight-year veteran, came around a corner of a building and found Church standing in an alcove.
Soper ordered the teen-ager to drop the rifle, and "the suspect pivoted and turned the rifle on the officer," Hall said. Soper fired three times, striking Church twice.
Hall said the rifle was not loaded. But cartridges were found on the ground near where the teen-ager fell, and the empty ammunition box was found in the bushes were he had been seen earlier. Hall said Church may have been attempting to load the gun before Soper found him.
A preliminary investigation of the shooting showed that Soper acted within the department's shooting policy, Hall said. As is routine in all officer-involved shootings, the district attorney's office will also conduct an investigation of the shooting.