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San Diego police fatally shoot 15-year-old boy who brandished a BB gun in front of school

San Diego police fatally shoot 15-year-old boy who brandished a BB gun in front of school
San Diego police personnel photograph evidence at the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Torrey Pines High School Saturday morning. (Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Two San Diego police officers shot and killed a 15-year-old boy who pointed a BB air pistol at one of them as he stood in front of Torrey Pines High School early Saturday, police said.

Authorities are declining to name the boy because he was a juvenile. The teen was a freshman at the school and lived in the neighborhood.

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Police received a 911 call at 3:27 a.m. asking for a welfare check on a juvenile at the school in Carmel Valley, said police homicide Lt. Mike Holden. The caller said there was a kid in front of the school who someone should probably check on and that the person was not armed, the lieutenant said.

Police believe the caller was the boy himself, Holden said.

The two officers arrived at the school on Del Mar Heights Road about the same time and saw the teen. As they got out of their patrol cars to speak with him, he "pulled a handgun that was concealed in his waistband and pointed it at one of the officers," Holden said.

Both officers drew their weapons and told him to drop the gun, but he continued to point the gun and walk toward one officer, Holden said.

The teen ignored additional commands and, fearing for their safety, both fired, the lieutenant said.

The teen was struck several times.

The officers immediately began life-saving measures, and the teen was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, where he was pronounced dead, Holden said.

The teen's gun remained at the scene to be processed as evidence. Police later determined that the gun was a "semi-automatic BB air pistol," Holden said.

Both officers had activated their body-worn cameras at some point, so investigators will be able to review the incident, Holden said.

The shooting occurred in the front parking lot, near a turnaround area. It was not known how the boy got to the school, although police said he didn't appear to have driven there.

"The details of the situation are still unfolding, but whatever they are, this event is very traumatic for our students, staff, families, and community," Eric Dill, superintendent for the San Dieguito Union High School District, said in a letter posted on the district's website.

The teen's name was not released in the letter.

"I know this is difficult, but we ask that you please refrain from conjecture or spreading rumors," Dill said. "This is a difficult time for the family and we need to let them mourn."

He said a crisis response team will be at school Monday for students and faculty as needed.

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"As a community, we have a shared responsibility to care for one another," Dill said. "Please rest assured that we will do everything possible to maintain our daily routine while supporting each other as we deal with this sad event."

The shooting occurred just hours before an unknown number of students arrived at the school to take SATs, tests used for college admissions.

Dill told the Union-Tribune that police redirected students arriving for the tests to a rear entrance. Students also were informed about what had happened and were given the opportunity to opt out and take the test another day, but Dill said he had not heard of any students who had.

Torrey Pines Principal Rob Coppo is expected to write a letter that will be sent to families and staff members.

"I know he's quite saddened by this," Dill said about Coppo. "He has been in touch with the family, and his focus is on supporting the school."

Dill said the family had told Coppo that they wanted privacy. He also said he had not heard of any note or other message the student had left behind to indicate why the incident occurred.

The names of the officers involved are expected to be released in the next few days, according to department protocol.

The officers have been on the force for 28 years and four years, respectively. One of the officers is on the department's Juvenile Services Team, Holden said. They were not injured.

Davis and Littlefield write for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Staff writer Gary Warth contributed to this report

UPDATES:

4:05 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from Supt. Eric Dill and additional writing.

This article was originally published at 9:50 a.m.

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