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Santa Monica Police Shoot, Arrest Suspect in Year's Second Homicide
By Jorge Casuso
August 7, 2017 -- Santa Monica police shot and arrested a fleeing gunman who fatally shot a man on a busy stretch of Main Street Friday evening, police said.
The first shooting took place at around 6:30 p.m. on Main near Strand Street after an argument between the suspect and victim, who apparently knew each other, police said.
The shooting sent dozens of people who were strolling on the popular strip running for cover, witnesses said.
“Two pop pop sounds and we thought it was fireworks, and then all of a sudden we hear this lady screaming,” one witness told KCAL9. “And there’s a man lying on the ground and another man running.
"People started running inside the store, wondering what’s going on. And we’re looking through the window," she said. "And we see blood and a lady screaming for help everywhere.”
One witness, Robin Blatt, said that the gunman was “the most psychotic looking man” and that it seemed like he “wasn’t done” after shooting the victim, KTLA reported.
Police responding to the scene spotted a man carrying a firearm on 2nd Street one block east of the scene and chased him into Hotchkiss Park, said Lt. Saul Rodriguez, the Police Department spokesman.
The man "displayed" the firearm at several officers, before more officers responded and "engaged" the subject, Rodriguez told KTLA.
The gunman then "fired several rounds at the officers, and the officers fired back," Rodriguez said. "The suspect was struck and basically taken down."
The suspect was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive, police said.
He is described as an African American male in his 40s.
Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said on Twitter that the officers involved were not injured.
According to the Associated Press, a video posted on social media "showed police officers converging on a man lying on the ground. An officer could be heard shouting for the man not to move.
"The officers approached the man with their guns drawn and appeared to kick an object away from his body," AP reported.
One eyewitness posted her account of the police related-shooting on Facebook. In the post, which was disseminated on the residocracy.com website, the witness describes "what I thought I saw, how I reacted, and what I felt."
"When I looked up I saw a man with a large gun running through the park at the same time that I heard shots. I jumped up and SPRINTED out of the park," the witness wrote.
"When I reached the street I saw a UPS truck with the back/loading door open. I told the driver that there was a shooter and he told me to get in. We hunkered down, pulling the door most of the way closed.
"From our little shelter we warned everyone we saw about the shooter and watched as dozens of police cars and ambulances pulled in and helicopters started flying around overhead."
After the shooter had been brought into custody, the witness returned to the park to give the police her statement, she said.
The shooting is Santa Monica's second homicide of the year.
The first took place in February, when Juan Sebastian Castillo, an 18-year-old who graduated from Santa Monica High School last year, was found unconscious near UCLA Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the head (“Police Investigate Shooting Death of Santa Monica Teenager," February 27, 2017).
Nearly two months later, Santa Monica police arrested Castillo’s alleged killer, 42-year-old Sherwin Mendoza Espinosa, after what they called “extensive and thorough investigative efforts” (“Man Charged in Connection with Santa Monica Teen’s Murder,” May 22, 2017).
There were two reported homicides in 2016, both taking place in the first half of the year ("Theft Tops Santa Monica Crime Reports for First Half of Year," August 16 2016).
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