UPDATE: The gun that the suspect brandished at officers following his stop was a replica firearm, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff's Lt. Erik Rainey said in a news release this morning that after the man was shot and killed, officers approached his body and discovered the weapon was a replica.
"During the subsequent investigation and forensic examination of the scene, investigators discovered that the weapon the suspect brandished was a replica firearm," Rainey said.
"The name of the suspect is being withheld pending confirmation of identity and notification of next of kin," he said. "The number of officers and number of rounds fired, as well as whether the suspect fired his weapon, will be determined during the course of theinvestigation."
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He said that since the shooting occurred in the county, the Sheriff's Office will be the lead investigative agency. Santa Maria police will also do an administrative review of the incident.
ORIGINAL: A high-speed chase that wound through San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties Thursday night ended when Santa Maria police fatally shot a man who reportedly brandished a gun at officers, according to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department.
The incident is the second fatal shooting within a week by officers in a department that has faced a litany of woes. Among them, police Chief Danny Macagni was put on administrative leave Aug. 8 following an independent audit sparked by the January shooting of Officer Albert Covarrubias Jr. by another officer.
Thursday night’s car chase started after a motorist in Santa Maria reported a man brandishing a gun from another vehicle about 6 p.m., said Lt. Erik Raney of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department.
When Santa Maria police went to the area specified in the report, they encountered a man in an SUV who led them on a chase onto Highway 101 toward Nipomo.
The driver then headed south on Highway 1 toward Guadalupe, passing through town on the highway toward Orcutt, at times driving on the wrong side of the road.
The vehicle was disabled after the fleeing suspect drove over spikes set up on the highway south of Black Road by the CHP, Raney said.
All four of the SUV’s tires were punctured, and the vehicle came to a stop before the driver emerged with a pistol, police say.
The man stood on the roadway, brandishing the pistol at Santa Maria police; officers then opened fire, killing the man, Raney said.
No details about the man have been released.
The incident will be investigated by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department, in whose jurisdiction it occurred. “All of these incidents that involve officers, it’s important that the public recognize that the officers are the victims,” Raney said. The officers are doing a job, he added, and at times must defend themselves.