Man wearing bulletproof vest shot and killed by Pierce County sheriff identified


Pierce County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD) deputies shot and killed a 40-year-old man in Tacoma Monday morning after he was reportedly carrying a gun and wearing a bulletproof vest.

According to PCSD, officers working the midnight shift noticed several people standing outside Smoke and More, which was closed at the time, at 808 East 72nd Street, at 1:16 a.m. Officers learned one of the people outside Smoke and More had an active felony arrest warrant and was taken into custody, PCSD said.

At 1:44 a.m., officers said another person fled, heading “southbound along the railroad tracks.” Officers said the man had a handgun while fleeing, and at 1:45 a.m., officers radioed in to report “shots fired,” police said. It is unclear what happened between 1:06 a.m. and 1:45 a.m. and the exact circumstances leading up to the fatal shooting.

“The first man had a felony warrant for his arrest, police went to the second man, he pulled a gun as he ran from them, police announced over the radio that the man had gone down the tracks and just a minute after he ran off, gunshots rang out,” said police Sergeant Darren Moss.

Moss said officers attempted CPR on the man but he was pronounced dead at the scene. No officers were injured, Moss said.

On Thursday, the Pierce County Coroner’s Office identified the slain 40-year-old man as Lopeti aiolupotea magarei.

Sergeant Charles Porsche of the Pierce County Police Force Investigations Team (PCFIT), which is leading the investigation, said Monday that Aiolpotea-Magaray is a Pacific Islander, but he did not know where he was from. The coroner also did not have the 40-year-old man’s address or hometown when he released his name Thursday. Porsche said Aiolpotea-Magaray is wanted on both felony and misdemeanor personal offense warrants. He said the other two also have outstanding felony warrants.

The shooting happened at the intersection of East 72nd Street and McKinley Avenue, in Tacoma but technically in an unincorporated area of ​​Pierce County. Moss said it was unclear whether the 40-year-old man was shot by one deputy or multiple deputies.

“It’s very unusual to have someone walking around in a bulletproof vest with a gun in the middle of the night,” Moss told KOMO News on Monday, “so it’s very concerning that this guy was here.”

“It just speaks to how dangerous this situation is. We have people walking around with guns and bulletproof vests, willing to draw their guns even when officers are issuing lawful commands.”

Moss said officers were “aggressively enforcing” the “high crime” Tacoma area. Moss said officers have responded to numerous crimes in and around tobacco stores.

“I’m used to dealing with people here,” Moss said, “and I’m used to dealing with people on the tracks.”

Rodney Ezell is one of them. He lives in the neighborhood and shops at malls like Smoke & More. He argues the answer is to show compassion regardless of “color or culture.” He would like to see more community-based policing, where officers get to know neighborhoods and build relationships with the community.

“I have an 18-year-old stepdaughter who is three months away from graduating and she is too scared to even step outside her front door unless it’s to go to Lincoln High School or to go home. Outside that front door, everything is real and that’s not what you should be thinking about,” Ezell said.

Ruth Pichardo owns La Oveja Negra Eatery, next door to her smoke supplies store. She said her side entrance was shattered two weeks ago, and before that, two huge panels on her storefront were broken. She said it’s hard to stay afloat while constantly dealing with intruders and making repairs. Pichardo said she’s not surprised by the deadly shooting so close to her store, just saddened.

“I continue to work and live like everyone else, but it’s really hard because there’s so much violence around,” Pichardo said.

Moss said the PCFIT is handling the investigation and that the deputies involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, per regulations.



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