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Policeman Kills Hillcrest Resident : Knife-Wielding Victim Allegedly Was Attacking Officer

October 07, 1986|JEFFREY MILLER | Times Staff Writer

A Hillcrest man was shot and killed by a San Diego police officer early Monday morning after he allegedly came at the officer with a knife.

The man, identified by coroner's deputies as Bernardo Mondragon, 23, was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. He was shot twice in the chest by Officer Peter Mills, said Lt. Phil Jarvis of the Police Department homicide detail.

Mills and his partner, Officer John Tefft, were called to Mondragon's apartment in the 3900 block of 9th Avenue at 1:40 a.m. Monday by the man's roommate, whom police did not identify, Jarvis said. The roommate, clad only in his underwear, told the officers that Mondragon had become enraged and attacked him and was in the apartment breaking his personal possessions, Jarvis said.

After knocking repeatedly on the apartment's door and receiving no response, the officers kicked it in and searched the apartment for Mondragon, eventually finding him standing in the bathtub, Jarvis said. When they asked Mondragon to step out, he grabbed a large butcher knife from the bathroom sink and pointed it at his chest.

Believing he might attempt suicide, the officers told him to put down the knife, drew their weapons and backed away. Tefft went into an adjacent bedroom, and Mills went into the living room, toward the front door, Jarvis said. While backing through the living room, Mills stumbled over a couch and fell backward, Jarvis said.

Mondragon tried to run past Mills and through the front door, but Mills reached up and grabbed him by the shirt, Jarvis said. Mondragon then lunged at Mills with the knife, and Mills fired two shots at him, he said.

Mills, under standard departmental procedure, has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of an investigation by the district attorney's office to determine whether the shooting was justified, Jarvis said.

This is the second time Mills has shot a suspect in his 11 years with the department, said Bob Burgreen, assistant chief of police. In April, 1984, Mills wounded a man who reportedly came at him with an ax, he said.

Mondragon is the fifth person killed by San Diego police this year, Burgreen said.

As of Monday, police had fired at 19 suspects since Jan. 1. Ten of them were wounded, he said. Six of the woundings and three of the deaths involved the department's Border Crimes Task Force, Burgreen said.

The task force, composed of San Diego police officers and U.S. Border Patrol agents, patrols the border area for bandits who rob undocumented aliens crossing into California.

Detectives are still investigating the cause of the altercation between Mondragon and his roommate, Jarvis said, and they have no information on Mondragon's occupation or background.

The coroner's office said Mondragon's nearest relative is a brother living in Tijuana. Coroner's deputies will perform a toxics screen on Mondragon as part of the autopsy, a coroner's spokesman said. The results should be available in four to six weeks.

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