OXNARD — An Oxnard special tactics officer on Thursday shot and killed a young man after a brief noontime confrontation, the second such shooting in eight days.
The shooting occurred about 12:15 p.m. after a veteran SWAT officer cruising the downtown area with a partner spotted a 22-year-old Oxnard man wanted on arrest warrants at a taco stand. The officer chased him for two blocks on foot, then shot him several times after the man turned and pulled a handgun, authorities said.
Charles Joseph Valdez was taken to St. John's Regional Medical Center, where he died shortly after arrival, authorities said. Police sought Valdez for a parole violation.
Court records indicate Valdez had a lengthy criminal record, including three felony convictions since 1997 for auto theft, burglary and battery on a police officer.
Misdemeanor convictions include receiving stolen property and possession of drug paraphernalia. Most recently, he pleaded guilty in December for driving without a license and speeding.
"He brandished a weapon," Cmdr. Tom Chronister said. "The officer had no choice but to use deadly force."
Police said they recovered a small-caliber revolver.
A member of the same SWAT unit killed a mentally disturbed 17-year-old boy after he took a student hostage at Hueneme High School on Jan. 10, committing what authorities described as "suicide by cop."
"In both situations we were actually provoked," Chronister said. "We don't get involved in this line of work to hurt, injure or kill folks. Unfortunately, our hand was pushed."
Chronister initially said the special tactics officer shot Valdez after the suspect pointed a gun at him, but later said Valdez had only waved the weapon.
Three witnesses--all between 75 to 100 yards away at the time of the shooting--told The Times that they did not see Valdez with a gun.
But they said Valdez didn't immediately give up and took a questioning attitude instead.
The fleeing Valdez stopped abruptly in the parking lot of a methadone treatment clinic on 6th Street, witnesses said, and whirled after the sprinting officer yelled, "Stop, I know where you live!"
Valdez then brought up his hands and asked the officer what he wanted.
"He turned around to the officer and said, 'What's up?' " said Guillermo Quezada, 28, of Oxnard. "And the officer pointed the gun and shot."
Quezada's friend, Salvador Navarro, 24, said Valdez was "waving his hands." Then the officer shot. Valdez fled briefly, as the officer took cover behind a car. "Then the officer shot him again," Navarro said.
A third witness, who refused to give his name, described the same scene.
Witnesses said they heard two shots first and then three more a few seconds later after Valdez and the officer disappeared from view behind parked cars as the chase continued.
Chronister said the officer did fire two volleys--when Valdez first turned to confront him at the edge of the parking lot and was wounded, and then a second round of shots when Valdez ran a few feet then turned back toward the officer. Several shots struck him the second time, the spokesman said.
"The officer involved was in great shape; not the kind of guy you want to run from," Chronister said.
Paramedics tried to revive Valdez at the scene, but he died at the hospital before 1 p.m., authorities said.
Yolanda Urbina, 27, of Westlake Village and a student at the Modern Beauty Academy nearby, said Valdez was shot in the head and the abdomen.
Authorities would only say he died of "multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body."
Witnesses said the chase began at the Tacos La Placita stand in the 400 block of C Street across from Oxnard's central park and plaza.
Stand owner Miguel Ernesto Tovar said police arrived just after Valdez and his pregnant girlfriend argued over whether to eat there. Valdez ordered his lunch as the girlfriend walked away.
When Valdez saw the two uniformed officers approaching, he ran and the officers pursued, Tovar said. One officer retreated to his unmarked white police car, while the other continued the chase on foot up C Street to 5th and then down an alley to 6th Street, where the officer caught up with him and the confrontation began.
The girlfriend, who had left before the chase began, returned later and was questioned by police, Tovar said.
Tovar remembered Valdez as a longtime customer whom he first met about a decade ago. Valdez and his father, who lived in a nearby homeless shelter, would regularly come by for breakfast, Tovar said.
The two recent Oxnard police shootings are the first in three years. Since 1990, there have been at least 13 officer-involved shootings.
In January 1998, an Oxnard officer shot and killed a man who had been stopped for riding his bicycle erratically. Officer Jack Kajawa later said that the man, Albert Flores, tried to attack him with a screwdriver.
In 1997, there were two shootings, one involving a transient who was wounded after he allegedly reached for an officer's gun, and the other after a four-hour stand-off with a suspect who was shot to death by a SWAT team marksman.
In 1996, there were two shootings, including the accidental slaying of SWAT officer James Jensen by his partner in an early-morning raid.
All of the shootings were ruled justified.
Times staff writers Matt Surman and Tracy Wilson and Times correspondents Katie Cooper and Gail Davis contributed to this report.