A man armed with a knife who had barricaded himself in his van was fatally shot Sunday night in Orange following a bizarre standoff in which police and firefighters used a hose to force him from the vehicle.
Michael Anthony Perez is shown with four of his six children in a photo provided to KTLA by his sister.
A woman who identified herself as his sister said he was Michael Anthony Perez, 33, a father of six whose birthday would have been Wednesday. Police later confirmed Perez, of Orange, as being shot during the incident.
“He is not just another person shot by the police,” Lovina Perez told KTLA. “He is a son, brother and father.”
The incident began around 11:15 p.m. when police attempted to pull the man’s minivan over for a broken taillight and a warrant associated with the license plate number, according to a statement from Orange Police Department. The suspect did not yield right away but eventually pulled into a parking lot in the 100 block of West Katella Avenue, officers said.
“It was a legal car stop,” Orange police Lt. Fred Lopez told KTLA. “He parked his vehicle and then refused to get out of the car.”
Perez was barricaded in his vehicle for about half an hour, and authorities grew concerned when he produced a lighter and gas container they thought could be flammable, Lopez said.
The Orange Fire Department soon arrived on scene with a fire hose to assist police in extracting the man from his car.
“The officers could smell the gasoline and became concerned when he lit a cigarette,” Lopez said. “We thought it could be combustible, so they felt that a plan needed to be put into place to save his life.”
He was flushed out after several attempts, and many of the van’s windows were broken.
Video captured at the scene next shows an outburst of yelling and sounds of shots fired. Perez had pulled out a knife, Lopez said.
“What we do know is that at one point when he’s out of the vehicle he reaches behind his back and he does produce a knife — what we now know to be a knife — and an officer-involved shooting ensued shortly after,” he told KTLA.
In an updated news release, police said Perez was shot once in the upper torso, but did not say whether he lunged at officers or tried to harm them.
“There mere fact that somebody chooses to arm themselves is, in fact, a threat to officer safety and to the safety of people around, so we do construe that as a threat,” Lopez said.
“We don’t know if he was going to commit suicide, if he was going to set the car on fire, all of those things were a possibility and we wanted to avoid that happening,” the lieutenant added.
Officials attempted to render aid on scene before the Perez was transported to a nearby hospital, where he later died.
Police said Perez had an “extensive criminal history” that included weapons violations and narcotics.
Perez’s aunt described him as a loving father.
“It’s a big loss because I’m going to really miss him,” Rose Becerra, of San Jacinto, said. “He loved his kids. That’s what I want the world to know. I want the world to know that he was funny.”
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the incident with the help of Orange police.