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Police Chief Eddie Garcia discusses the unfortunate series of events that occurred when a mentally ill man threatened police officers and power plant workers.

California police were faced with a difficult situation when a mentally unstable man broke into the Metcalf Energy Center, threatening workers. The 27-year-old man with a history of mental illness, which has resulted in him being institutionalized multiple times, was shot and killed in San Jose when he failed to surrender to authorities despite being requested to do so numerous times.

On Tuesday, around 5 P.M., employees at the power plant notified authorities that there had been a security breach, resulting in a trespasser entering who then endangered the plant’s workers. The man, whose identity is not being released, reportedly hopped the perimeter fence of the power plant, armed with an ax and a large pipe.

He was first seen approaching the facility’s front gate in a Mercedes-Benz. After parking the car, he pulled several items from the trunk and entered the powerplant unauthorized, threatening to attack. Police on the scene tried repeatedly to convince the man to surrender. Gathering further information about the suspect, they also located a sword in the car and determined he was “armed and dangerous,” from running the man’s license plate.

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The Metcalf Energy Center where a man was shot and killed after proving to be a threat.

It appeared this was still the case, as the man would not disarm and yelled “Shoot me and kill me!” multiple times. After officers demanded his cooperation 23 times, the man continued to approach them threateningly. At around 5:20, a shot was fired at the suspect, but it did not stop him. Only after a second officer fired his weapon did the man finally cease to be a threat, though he was killed at the scene. Upon searching the man, police also discovered “another ax, six throwing knives, and pepper spray.”

The investigation has not revealed why the man went on the rampage, other than his mental health, which was apparently not being properly addressed or taken seriously. His last admittance to a psychiatric hospital was in September, though police have reported other incidents that occurred throughout the year with three different police jurisdictions, all involving drugs and weapons. From 2005 to 2009 he had also been convicted of four misdemeanors and one felony, “primarily involving meth and firearms.”

He had apparently never left that lifestyle behind, however, as his most recent arrest was in November, for “similar offenses.” Arguably, if the man has received the help he possibly needed, considering his extensive past, his death could have been most likely prevented. This is yet another example of the need for more attention being given to mental health issues, which are often the cause of violent incidents and not the weapons involved.

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Police on the scene after the fatal shooting in San Jose.

The incident is tragic considering the man’s disabilities, however, police on the scene had no other choice without risking the safety and lives of those around. They were also on high alert, recalling a very similar situation occurring in 2013 when a shooting occurred at the Pacific Gas & Electric Co., not far from the Metcalf plant. It is unclear if this week’s suspect had any intent to harm, as he did not know anyone who worked at the plant, nor did he make any demands once on the power plant’s property, according to authorities.

Tuesday’s police shooting is likely to cause fury from the left, as it is the first of 2018. It is understandably upsetting, however, law enforcement tried other ways of detaining the man, none which were successful. Police Chief Eddie Garcia called it “an unfair situation for both parties,” as a man lost his life which officers were required to take to protect others.

Additionally, there is the possibility that the man’s severe drug habit with hard substances drove him to the insanity which led to the power plant incident. Even more likely is the possibility that drugs such as meth were a factor, causing the man to act out. In either case, police did not have the time or resources to determine these possibilities at the time of the shooting, and those details are still being investigated. Even if drugs or illness are to blame, it does not excuse the man’s actions, as he was actively threatening citizens’ and law enforcement officers’ lives.

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Metcalf Energy Center took the situation with the armed man seriously, as did the responding officers. Hopefully, police will not be put in many situations this year which require deadly force, as eight were yielded last year in San Jose alone. The police officers who ultimately took out the man will likely face criticism for their actions, though most of the incident was caught on film. Most importantly, they were doing their job to protect and would take the same action if warranted in a future incident.