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Homeless Man Killed by Police at Aquarium

Visitors scurry for cover at Long Beach attraction as an officer shoots a man he says threatened him with a chain.

May 08, 2005|Miguel Bustillo | Times Staff Writer

A Long Beach police officer shot and killed a homeless man at the Aquarium of the Pacific on Saturday afternoon after the man allegedly came toward him swinging a heavy chain.

The shooting, which occurred outside near an aquarium refreshments area, took place in front of dozens of visitors, who scurried for cover after hearing gunfire. No one else was injured. The aquarium remained open throughout the incident.

Long Beach police did not release the name of the officer, and said they had not confirmed the identity of the victim.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office is investigating, which is standard practice in officer-involved shootings.

Police said the marine patrol officer, a 15-year veteran, was patrolling the shore near the aquarium when he saw the homeless man taking items from a garbage can.

When the officer asked him to stop, the homeless man went to his bicycle, grabbed a large, heavy chain with a padlock attached to the end and began swinging it as he moved toward the officer, police said.

The officer initially drew his baton and asked the man to stop, but the man kept moving forward, police said.

The officer then drew his handgun and continued to ask the man to halt, police said. But the man continued to move forward, swinging the chain, said Long Beach Police Department spokesman Israel Ramirez.

"The officer, fearing for his safety, drew his weapon and ordered him to stop," Ramirez said. "When the subject continued to move forward, the officer fired his weapon."

The officer fired multiple shots at the man, then immediately called for assistance, police said.

The man was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

Officers blockaded the courtyard area surrounding the shooting site Saturday afternoon.

Long Beach homicide detectives and an investigator from the district attorney's office interviewed witnesses.

So many people saw the shooting that "we used buses to get them transported to give their statements" to police, Ramirez said.

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