The Santa Maria Police Department was part of an officer-involved shooting Thursday evening, which ended in the death of a man who lead officers on a pursuit along Highway 1 and Black Road in the unincorporated area of Santa Maria. The man — whose name hasn’t been released — brandished a replica firearm at SMPD officers who, “defending themselves from the armed suspect, fired at the suspect,” wrote a Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department spokesperson in a press release.
The incident marks the seventh officer-involved shooting in the county this year. A 71-year-old Florida man was shot and killed by law enforcement personnel in Santa Maria this Monday after her reportedly tried to rob a woman with a gun.
According to the prepared statement from authorities about Thursday’s incident, Santa Maria police received a 911 call at around 6 p.m. from a motorist in the area of Mill and School roads who claimed another driver had flashed a gun at them. Dispatchers then received a second call describing a similar incident in the same area, the statement reads. SMPD officers responded to the area and located a car matching the description given by the callers and tried to pull it over, but the driver led officers on a pursuit that lasted almost an hour.
The chase wove through the City of Santa Maria, north onto Highway 101 and into San Luis Obispo County, then into the Guadalupe area. “From there the suspect led pursuing officers out Highway 1, back towards unincorporated Santa Maria,” the press release describes. “The Pursuing Santa Maria officer’s solicited the assistance of the California Highway Patrol, who successfully deployed a spike strip, incapacitating the vehicle on Highway 1 just south of Black Rd.”
The suspect reportedly stopped his car in the middle of the roadway, exited the vehicle, and confronted officers with the fake gun in-hand. Shots were fired, and the suspect fell to the ground. He was pronounced dead at the scene. According to the Sheriff’s Department, the “Santa Maria Police Department was the only agency involved in the shooting. Since the incident occurred within the jurisdiction of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office is the lead investigating agency.”
No officer’s were hurt in the shooting, and the name of the suspect is being withheld until his identity can be confirmed and his next of kin are notified.