FREMONT (CBS SF) — A suspect who died in a Fremont officer-involved shooting had allegedly made good on a threat he made to Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies weeks before to “shoot the first cop he saw.”
Investigators said 30-year-old Fremont resident Michael Allen Felch walked toward an officer’s car from the east side of Civic Center Dr. at about 10:50 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, pointed a handgun at him and opened fire, striking the officer’s vehicle at least once.
The officer made a U-turn, stopped his car, grabbed his rifle, shot and hit the suspect. Other officers then also fired as a wounded Felch reached for his gun, pointed it at them and fired two shots.
“If you watch the (officer body cam) videos, at first the officers spotted the gun on the ground close to within his reach,” said Fremont Police Chief Kimberly Petersen. “They were specifically warning him not to reach for the weapon. And instead he did, he reached for it, he lifted it up, he pointed it — it appears in the video — that he actually was able to fire it two times before the officers were able to disable him.”
Petersen said an all points warning had been issued on Feb. 1st by the Alameda County Sheriff Department after a Felch uttered threats toward police officers during an interaction with deputies.
“He was simply looking to kill a cop or he was looking to kill himself, I’m not really sure,” Petersen said. “There is information from the investigation that shows he’s been wanting to actually kill a police officer for some time.”
His past encounters with authorities included being charged with drug possession and DUI in 2008, assault with a deadly weapon in 2011, and resisting arrest and battery of a police officer last year.
“We can’t know exactly what was in his mind,” she added. “His mother did say he was troubled. That possibly he had some mental health issues. Of course, our officers could not have known that as they were responding.”
Petersen said Felch had a Smith and Wesson pistol with him, but the weapon was not registered in his name.
“I’m not sure whether it (the gun) had a serial number or not,” Petersen said. “We are specifically trying to find out where that gun came from.”
On the various officer body cams released by Fremont police Friday, Felch is seen wounded on the ground and then reaching for the pistol and firing at police before he dies in a volley of return gunfire.
“He told him to get on the ground. He provided him an opportunity to get on the ground. He didn’t just come out and start shooting him,” said Petersen. “And then when the suspect didn’t comply, and raised the gun at him, the proper reaction for a police officer in that case is to return fire.”
Petersen defended the actions of the officers involved with the fatal shooting, saying they responded appropriately under the circumstances to keep the public safe.
“Had our officers not acted decisively and with the appropriate level of force, this incident would have very likely resulted in multiple innocent victims being shot or killed,” said Petersen.
Police also released a photo that showed where the bullet pierced the patrol car last week.