San Diego, CA — A 15-year-old boy is dead following an interaction with San Diego police Saturday morning. Police, responding to a call for a welfare check on the boy, shot and killed him for having a BB gun.
To add mystery to this tragedy, according to San Diego Police Department (SDPD) acting Homicide Capt. Mike Holden, the 15-year-old boy called police asking officers to conduct a welfare check on a minor — himself — near Torrey Pines High School (TPHS) in Carmel Valley just before 3:30 a.m.
“[In] our preliminary investigation, we believe that the subject that was shot is the person who actually called to check the welfare [of the minor]. We believe that he actually called and spoke about himself in the third person,” Holden explained, according to NBC 7. “It was a very general ‘check the welfare’ call.”
“It was a phone call that ‘there’s a male juvenile in front of the school, it appears someone should check on him,'” Holden added.
As NBC 7 reports:
Two officers — including an officer specifically trained to deal with juveniles — were the first to arrive at the parking lot at the front entrance of the school. There, they spotted the teenager standing in the lot.
Holden said that as the officers got out of their patrol car, the teenager pulled a gun out of his waistband “and pointed it directly at one of the officers.”
Both officers drew their service weapons while repeatedly ordering the teenager to drop his weapon. Holden said the teen refused to drop the weapon and, instead, “continued to point the handgun at the one officer and then began walking towards the same officer.”
According to the police account, officers again told the boy to drop his weapon. At this point, according to police, the officers feared for their safety and began firing, striking the teen “a number of times.”
“Everyone’s in shock and everyone’s surprised,” Torrey Pines junior Hayder Alamar told NBC 7. “Right when I woke up I got a lot of text messages from my friends saying ‘did you hear about the shooting at the school?’ And at first I didn’t believe it.”
“I am saddened to report that the 15-year-old boy who was killed was a student at our school. Law enforcement has not released the name of the young man, but our hearts go out to the student, his family, and his friends. The details of the situation are still unfolding, but whatever they are, this event is very traumatic for our students, staff, families, and community.”
San Diego police officers are equipped with body cameras, and the officers who shot the boy were wearing them. According to Holden, video of the shooting exists but has been impounded as evidence in the investigation.
One day before the shooting, the San Diego District Attorney released three body camera videos of prior police shootings. Whether or not this video will be released, however, remains to be seen.
When hearing the details of this incident, one cannot help but be reminded of the tragic events surrounding the killing of Tamir Rice.
In that case, the Cleveland police officer who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice told a colleague he had “no choice,” as the boy was reaching for a toy gun. Troubled cop Timothy Loehmann jumped out of the police vehicle and almost immediately unloaded two shots, one fatally wounding the 12-year-old boy.
Police told the public that Tamir Rice left Loehmann with no other options. However, surveillance footage later proved to invalidate that claim. Will the same thing happen with the body camera footage from this shooting?