WESTMINSTER — Two police officers fatally shot a Westminster man in his house Sunday after he allegedly grabbed a kitchen knife and lunged at a third officer, authorities said.
The shooting occurred about 5:20 p.m. as the officers attempted to defuse a dispute between the man and his wife, police said.
The man, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds, was transported to a local hospital where he was declared dead. His identity and those of the officers involved were being withheld by police late Sunday. None of the officers was injured.
Police said they were called to the house in the 8800 block of Pacheco Avenue by the man's wife. Neighbors said the couple had been arguing before the police arrived.
"We could hear them yelling," said a woman who lives across the street from the yellow-and-white stucco house. "It wasn't the first time they've argued, but I wouldn't say they fight more than any other husband and wife."
Neighbors identified the man only as Bob and said his wife's name is Sandy.
Mark Hatfield, who lives next door to the couple, said the man apparently was at a racetrack and had arrived home late, which angered the wife who was due at work but had to stay with the couple's two children until he returned.
Police and neighbors said the man had been drinking.
Westminster Police Capt. Andy Hall said two officers initially arrived at the scene about 5 p.m. and were trying to ease the tension of the situation. But the man defied many of the officers' orders, Hall said.
At some point, the officers called for an additional officer to help them, Hall said.
While the three officers were talking to the man inside, his wife stepped outside and started talking to Hatfield, he said.
"All of a sudden we heard gunshots," Hatfield said. "They must have fired 10 to 15 times before he hit the floor."
Hatfield said the wife tried to run back into the house but was told to stay put by an officer who ran out of the house carrying the couple's young son. The boy, who was asleep on the living room couch at the time of the shooting, was unharmed.
"It's hard for me to believe that three officers couldn't stop him without shooting," Hatfield said. "He's a big guy, but he's not stupid. I can't believe this."
One neighbor said she tried to console the wife after the shooting. "She was screaming, 'They killed him, they killed him,' and 'It's my fault,' " said the neighbor, who asked not be identified.
Immediately after the shooting, additional police arrived and blocked off the house with yellow police tape. The district attorney's office is investigating the shooting, as it does all officer-involved shootings in the county.
"We aren't making any determination yet as to whether the shooting was justified or not," Hall said.
Hall said the officers were having difficulty getting the man to calm down and listen to them. Up until the time of the shooting, Hall said, the man had done nothing that would have resulted in his arrest.
Hall said the man repeatedly asked the officers if he was under arrest. When the officers told him he was not, the man said, "Fine, this is my house and I can go where I want then," according to Hall.
The man walked into the kitchen and one of the officers followed closely behind, Hall said.
In the kitchen, the man grabbed a knife with a 9-inch blade, Hall said. The man lifted the knife above his head in a threatening motion and turned toward the officer who was following him, Hall said. The other officers were nearby.
"The officer was backpedaling," Hall said. "The two other officers drew their weapons and fired. The man was within striking distance when they shot him."