A Bakersfield police officer shot and killed a man Wednesday afternoon in southeast Bakersfield after he allegedly splashed gasoline on a woman — whose young children were in the car — tried to light her on fire and then advanced on the officer.
According to witnesses, the unidentified man, described by police only as an adult black male, had been at the TMP gas station at 2140 E. Brundage Lane for about three hours acting “erratically” by knocking over items, striking a nearby fence with a metal object, throwing patio furniture around, yelling obscenities and screaming.
But police weren’t dispatched until 12:28 p.m. when someone reported the man was at the station’s four double-sided gas pumps. Police were told he had spilled gas on the ground, removed the gas nozzle from the fuel tank of the woman’s vehicle and splashed gas on her pants. He then tried to set her on fire with a lighter.
The police officer arrived at the scene in four minutes, at 12:32 p.m. According to witnesses, the officer confronted the suspect, who was armed with what was variously described to police as a U-shaped bicycle lock or a black metal object, and ordered him to get on the ground.
Witnesses told police the suspect ignored the officer’s commands and “rapidly approached” him. Witnesses told police the officer fired one shot when the suspect was within five to 10 feet, hitting the man in the torso.
The officer then radioed about an officer-involved shooting and summoned medical aid.
The suspect was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 1:28 p.m. No one else was injured.
Police caution tape was wrapped around the gas station at the corner of East Brundage Lane and Mt. Vernon Avenue, as officers investigated the incident through the afternoon.
According to police spokesman Sgt. Joe Grubbs, the woman did not know the suspect.
Traffic at the intersection was closed until about 2:30 p.m.
The officer, whose name has not been released, was placed on paid administrative leave and an investigation is ongoing. Grubbs said the officer was not a rookie.
Any witnesses to the incident are asked to call Detective Brian Kennemer at 326-3919 or BPD at 327-7111.
The most recent BPD shooting before Wednesday occurred March 14 after a California Highway Patrol officer attempted to pull over 29-year-old Miguel Villanueva for allegedly using a cellphone.
Villanueva led the officer on a chase before colliding with a parked car near Belle Terrace and McDonald Way and then fleeing on foot to a detached garage in the 1000 block of McDonald Way. He allegedly shot at a CHP officer and later fired at other law enforcement officers.
Villanueva was shot multiple times when Bakersfield police opened fire on him. He survived his injuries.