Police officers on Tuesday night shot and killed a young man in the parking lot of a busy shopping center that has been the target of three recent robberies, authorities said.
The shooting occurred at 6:10 p.m. in the parking lot of a Thrifty Drugstore near Harbor Boulevard and Edinger Avenue, Police Capt. Rod Gillman said.
It was not certain whether the suspect fired at police, but the officers were not injured.
Police released little information about the shooting, but said the store had been robbed repeatedly in the past two weeks. They would not say whether the dead man, in his mid-20s, was a suspect in those robberies.
A witness to the shooting, Abraham Reyes, 22, of Los Angeles, said he was preparing to do some cleaning work in a bank in Fountain Valley Plaza when he saw a gray, unmarked car attempt to block a 1987 Oldsmobile in the middle of the parking lot. Two police officers jumped out of the gray car and, pointing guns at the driver, ordered him to get out, Reyes said. Instead, the man put the car in reverse. They ordered him to get out three or four more times, Reyes said.
"When he didn't, they shot him. It was too many times to count. It all happened really quick," Reyes said. "I think they unloaded a lot of (rounds). I heard a lot of gunshots. I'm used to it. I live in L.A."
Reyes said he did not see a gun on the suspect and that the man did not fire back.
The name of the dead man was not released.
Sylvia Jang, an employee at Casual Tree, a clothing store, said she "heard gunshots about 6. And I saw a gray car go by very fast." Jang said she "locked the door and ran to the back to hide."
Steve Demos, 27, was working behind the counter of Straw Hat Pizza when the shooting occurred.
"I heard screeching tires and then I heard a bunch of gunshots. You hear that many shots, and you think it's fireworks. . . . I was amazed there were cops there so quick; they must have been watching."
A poster by the front door of the Thrifty Drugstore, with a police sketch of a suspect, read:
"Between Jan 18, 1993, and Feb. 6, this suspect has been responsible for six armed robberies in Fountain Valley, and a robbery of a Vons market in Costa Mesa. He will enter an open business and buy items such as gum, candy or drinks with $1 bills. During the transaction, the suspect will confront the cashier with the handgun and demand money from the register.
"Vons market and Thrifty Drugstores have been victims on multiple occasions."
Police would not say if their presence in the parking lot was connected to the poster.