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Deputies Wound Man in Shooting

March 31, 2004|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

A man was shot and wounded several times by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in Long Beach after he charged them with his hands tucked inside a baseball cap in what authorities said Tuesday was a possible case of attempted "suicide by cop."

Three deputies confronted the unidentified 39-year-old man about 9:15 p.m. Monday, after receiving a call that he was throwing rocks at passing trains at the Metro Blue Line station at Columbia Street and Del Mar Avenue. The man ran about 100 feet and ducked into some shrubbery, concealing his hands in his cap, sheriff's homicide Capt. Ray Peavy said.

The deputies "were trying to coax him out and try and get him to give up," Peavy said. "He was yelling at the deputies that he had a gun and that he was 5150," a police designation for someone who is mentally disturbed.

Peavy said the deputies had considered using a police dog to try to flush the man out but were concerned that he would shoot the animal.

When the man emerged from the bushes with his hands in his hat, deputies fired nonlethal rounds, striking him with no effect.

He continued forward with his hands still concealed, Peavy said. Fearing that the man had a gun, the deputies fired again, this time using their duty weapons, and hit him in the upper body, he said.

"The deputies took him at his word that he intended to make good on what he said," Peavy said.

The names of the deputies were not immediately released and the man, who was described as a resident of the area, was listed in critical condition at a nearby hospital. Peavy said it appeared that the man might have goaded police to take his life. No weapon was found.

"He seemed to have almost a death wish," Peavy said. "Like he wanted this confrontation and he invited it."

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