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Police fatally shoot man who they say appeared to have a gun; witness believes it was a flashlight

An image shows San Bernardino police and a man holding an object.
An image shows the confrontation Saturday night between San Bernardino police and a man holding up an object.
(San Bernardino Police Department)

San Bernardino police shot and killed a man who was carrying what appeared to be a handgun during a standoff Saturday night at a local gas station, authorities said.

Some witnesses described the object as a flashlight.

Police received a call reporting a man waving a handgun at Del Rosa Avenue and Date Street shortly before 8:30 p.m., the Police Department said in a statement.

When officers arrived, the man was still carrying what appeared to be a black handgun in his hand, police said. At least one officer can be heard yelling at the man to “put the gun down” on a video shown on some local news channels.

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At one point, one or more officers fired their weapons, striking the man. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Delina Miranda, a cashier at a Circle K convenience store across the street, witnessed the incident.

Hours before, she saw the same man rummaging in the garbage for food and panhandling, she said.

She told the man he could not do that at the gas station and turned him away. The man, who frequented the area, was harmless, she said. At the time, Miranda said she saw him using a flashlight to dig through the trash.

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Miranda said she believed the police mistook the flashlight for a gun.

The man then went to the Valero across the street and later the Exxon. He was then met with more than eight shots by police, Miranda said.

A second witness to the shooting, who did not want to be named, also said the man appeared to be holding a flashlight.

Police did not immediately say whether a gun was recovered at the scene but released several photographs that showed a man holding an object that resembled a handgun. In one photo, he appears to be pointing the object at a police car.

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Miranda said she shot video of the encounter. Video was also posted to YouTube. Officers can be heard shouting at the man to “drop the gun” as he stands with his arms at his sides. The video captures the sound of gunfire, but the man was out of the camera frame when the shooting took place, and any possible actions by the man can’t be seen.

His name was not released.


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