A 29-year-old Huntington Beach man who reportedly chased children and others with a baseball bat and a broken bottle before he was shot and killed by police Thursday night had a history of abusing alcohol and threatening family members, according to friends and court records.
Steven Schiltz was shot and killed by two Huntington Beach police officers on a soccer field at the Huntington Central Park Sports Complex at 18120 Goldenwest St.
Officers arrived at the complex about 7:20 p.m. after receiving emergency calls about a man with a bat and a broken bottle hitting trees and chasing people around the fields.
The 45-acre sports complex has eight softball fields overlaid with seven soccer fields, along with batting cages, two concession stands and playgrounds, according to the city of Huntington Beach. Several sporting events were taking place at the complex Thursday night, police and witnesses said.
Jose Sanchez, a club soccer coach, was watching his team of 13-year-old girls practice when he saw Schiltz chasing an adult player from an adjacent field to the area where Sanchez's team was practicing. Sanchez said he began ushering his players over a fence.
As the teens scrambled, a parent showed up with a stick and chased Schiltz away, Sanchez said.
The shooting is the fourth involving Huntington Beach police officers this year.
Two parents and their children ran as Schiltz approached a set of metal bleachers, Sanchez said. One woman remained sitting, apparently frozen in fear, he said.
"She was crouching down on the bleachers," Sanchez said. "She was freaking out."
Sanchez said two officers entered the field with their guns drawn and ordered Schiltz, who looked as if he was about to swing at the woman, to drop what he was holding. Sanchez said the object appeared to be a broken bottle.
According to Sanchez, officers fired three shots at Schiltz, but he remained upright, moving toward the woman. The officers fired three or four more rounds, Sanchez said.
Schiltz was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.
Police declined to comment on the number of shots officers fired or how many times Schiltz was hit.
No one else was injured, the department said.
The Orange County coroner's office declined to discuss the case Friday.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department will investigate the matter, as is typical for shootings involving Huntington Beach police.
Tom Hester, one of about 20 homeless people who frequently sleep in the park at night, said he met Schiltz, known by the group as "Steve-O," three years ago through a mutual friend. Hester said he and Schiltz often would ride bikes together.
Schiltz would bounce between the streets and his mother's home in Huntington Beach, according to Hester.
In the days before the shooting, Schiltz told Hester about challenges he was facing with his family and spoke about taking his own life, Hester said.
"He wanted it to end," Hester said. "He used to say he just couldn't take it anymore. At least he's in a better place."