Enraged that he was going to be booked on suspicion of drunk driving, a Yorba Linda man pulled a pistol from his pocket before an officer shot him dead in a sheriff's substation in the desert town of Baker over the weekend, authorities said Monday.
Officials with the California Highway Patrol and San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said a CHP officer, a 34-year-old patrolman whom they declined to identify, fired nine rounds at Frank Zigan, 60, after he aimed his gun at the officer's head Friday night.
Neighbors called the shooting incomprehensible, completely out of character for the quiet grandfather.
"He was friendly," said Carie Frisby, Zigan's next-door neighbor. "He'd open his home to kids who wanted to swim in his pool. He didn't seem like the kind of guy who would pull a gun."
The San Bernardino County district attorney's office will decide within 30 days of receiving the Sheriff's Department report whether the shooting was justified, said Dennis Christy, an administrative district attorney in Victorville.
Zigan, a longtime Yorba Linda resident, is survived by his wife, Lee, two daughters and four grandchildren.
A regular visitor to Nevada casinos, he was driving north on Interstate 15 when he was stopped about 7:45 p.m. by a CHP officer who reported seeing Zigan's car swerving across lanes five miles north of Baker.
CHP spokesman Adam Cortinas said Zigan admitted he had been drinking. Cortinas said the officer conducted a field sobriety test and determined Zigan's blood-alcohol level was high enough to require an additional test at a station in Baker.
Cortinas said that the officer has reported that he searched Zigan during the freeway stop and that the CHP is investigating how Zigan allegedly got the weapon into the station.
Only the arresting officer and Zigan were in the room when their confrontation took place, Cortinas said.
Zigan "didn't go with the program" when told he was going to be taken to the Barstow sheriff's station, where he would be booked, Cortinas said.
The officer said Zigan reached toward his waistband and pulled out a tiny 22-caliber handgun -- no longer than three inches -- and pointed it toward the officer's head. The officer shoved Zigan backward before firing the nine rounds, authorities said.
"The officer's life was in jeopardy, and he did what he did to protect his life," Cortinas said.
Family members could not be reached Monday. But Zigan's death stunned neighbors who referred to him as a "terrific person."
Gordon Bean, a neighbor of Zigan's for 25 years and an occasional golfing partner who lives two doors down, said he was shocked to hear Zigan had a gun. Bean is a hunter, and the subject of guns would sometimes come up in conversation.
"[Zigan] would always say that guns aren't safe around the home," Bean said. "To hear about him pulling a gun, it seems like that goes against all his beliefs and feelings. I can't see him buying a gun and carrying a concealed gun on his person. He said one time he didn't ever want to have a gun because if something would come up, he didn't want to have to use it on someone."
Dorothy McCullough, 80, who lives across the street from Zigan's ranch-style home in the 5200 block of Raintree Street, said Zigan often checked on her well-being, tucked her newspapers in her side door when she traveled and chatted with her often.
"There wasn't a hateful word out of him, ever," she said. "This whole thing is ridiculous and really out of character."