SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A police officer was “absolutely heroic” in an exchanged of gunfire with a suspect during an officer-involved shooting last week, San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said Monday.
Garcia met with reporters to discuss the incident which began on Friday morning with officers responding to a report of a family member — identified as 31-year-old Mario Caballero — with a gun inside a home on Barrow Court.
When officers arrived, Caballero allegedly emerged out of the house with a red bandana covering the lower half of his face and fired a single shot at police. An officer shot back with a long rifle and injured Caballero, at which point he barricaded himself inside the house and refused to come out.
“It’s unbelievably dangerous, I don’t think I have to remind everyone that on a call similar to this we lost an officer,” Garcia said. “We lost Officer Michael Johnson (in March 2015) to an incident such as this….We all know what could have happened. That officer knows what could have happened. To stand there the way he did, to fire back at the suspect they way he did, is absolutely heroic.”
He then shot again at police about an hour later while still barricaded, according to Garcia. The chief described body camera footage of bullets whizzing past the officers.
Around 8:25 p.m., police said officers were finally able to take the man into custody. Officers determined he had been shot at least once during the exchange and he was taken to a hospital for his injury, which was not considered life-threatening.
Caballero was on supervised release for similar violations at the time he was arrested, and has a lengthy criminal history involving burglary, assault, narcotics, firearms and gang-related activities.
Police found a 9mm-caliber handgun at the scene allegedly used by Caballero to shoot at the officers, as well as a 40mm-caliber handgun. Both had been reported stolen in residential burglaries last year, according to Garcia.
They also located three shell casings from Caballero’s gun outside the home and two shell casings inside the home. It is possible he may have fired at officers from inside the house.
Garcia admitted there was a danger to nearby residents by the exchange of gunfire, but the officer needed to take some kind of action to attempt to disarm the man.
“To have an individual that obviously is not in the right frame of mind, shooting indiscriminately, shooting at officers, is dangerous to everybody,” Garcia said. “It is out job to neutralize that threat, that is our job.”
No one else was injured, according to police.
Garcia said investigators were trying to piece together the circumstances surrounding the incident.
“To tell you that it keeps me up at night is not an exaggeration,” Garcia said, explaining that officers take many guns off the streets but frequently encounter violent individuals with firearms. “The individuals who are carrying those guns could very easily be turning on officers at any point.”
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