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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / VENTURA

Police Say Shooting Victim Was Suicidal

September 11, 1998|TINA DIRMANN

A Ventura man who was fatally shot by authorities after waving a loaded revolver at two police officers apparently had considered suicide in the hours before his death, police said.

Nick Nelson, who police say advanced on two officers with a loaded revolver while yelling "Go ahead and shoot," was shot to death outside his Ventura condominium about 12:25 a.m. Wednesday.

Authorities said Thursday they believe the 43-year-old Nelson was suicidal, but declined to elaborate.

Authorities said officers responding to a call of shots fired found Nelson in his Harbor Boulevard condominium holding a .357-revolver. Police say Nelson fired the gun twice into his television set before leaving his unit to confront authorities.

Nelson, still holding his revolver, challenged police to shoot, witnesses said.

When Nelson advanced toward two officers, police said, an officer armed with a shotgun fired once, but did not strike Nelson. The other officer fired twice with a .9-millimeter handgun, hitting Nelson in the leg and neck, Ventura police Lt. Carl Handy said.

Authorities have not released the names of the two officers, who have been placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation is underway.

The shooting victim's family questioned why police fired on Nelson, who they say may have been depressed but was not suicidal.

But Handy defended the officers' decision to shoot.

"Our officers were confronting someone who already displayed use of deadly force, made comments that demonstrated he was off balance, waved his gun in the direction of officers, then began advancing on them with a loaded firearm," Handy said. "Anything short of the force that was used could have jeopardized the life of the officers and the life of people in the neighborhood."

Handy said police had called a mental health crisis team to assist in dealing with Nelson.

"But everything happened so fast," Handy said. "They just didn't get there in time."

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