Man shot and killed by police at San Francisco airport identified

The man died after a confrontation with police near the BART station entrance.|

The San Mateo County Coroner's Office said Tuesday that the man who was shot and killed by police at the San Francisco International Airport on Jan. 20 was 37-year-old Nelson Waynezhi Szeto.

Szeto, whose city of residence is unknown, died after a confrontation with police near the BART station entrance at the airport's International Terminal. Initial reports from officials said Szeto was armed with two handguns, but an investigation by the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office later revealed that he had two airsoft guns.

The situation started with multiple reports made about a suspicious individual in the International Terminal, officials said.

The San Francisco Police Department responded at 7:26 a.m. and established that the suspect "appeared to be armed with a handgun," the police department said in a statement.

Officers reportedly tried to calm down Szeto using nonlethal measures, but he continued "to advance," and officers fired multiple shots "to neutralize the threat," airport spokesperson Doug Yakel said in an email statement Jan. 20.

A medical team administered CPR, but Szeto died from his injuries, officials said.

A bystander in the area was also injured in the gunfire and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, Yakel said.

The California Department of Justice announced that same day that it's investigating the shooting. Under Assembly Bill 1506, which was passed in 2020, a state prosecutor is required to "investigate incidents of an officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian."

Under the bill, Szeto is considered an "unarmed civilian" as he wasn't in possession of a deadly weapon. Airsoft guns are considered "replica guns" and "are not considered deadly weapons unless they are used in some particular manner likely to produce death or great bodily injury (e.g., as a bludgeon)."

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