Officials: Santa Rosa police shot knife-wielding man three times

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A knife-wielding man who charged Santa Rosa police officers was struck by three bullets and then shut himself in a bathroom in a West Steele Lane house, where he died, according to new details released Thursday.

Pablo Garcia-Garcia, 35, took two bullets in the upper left torso and one in the lower left hip during the Saturday morning confrontation, according to a press release from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the shooting. A single police officer, Nicholas Vlahandreas, fired his 9mm Glock pistol five times at Garcia, with three shots striking the man and two bullets lodging in a hallway floor.

During his confrontation with police, Garcia wasn’t incapacitated by three Taser activations or the use of pepper spray, the press release account stated. Instead, he charged officers and followed them out of a bedroom and into a hallway where Vlahandreas, “fearing for his life and that of others,” shot the man.

Before police arrived at the single-story house in the 2400 block of West Steele Lane, Garcia stabbed a male roommate in the same bedroom, police said. The roommate, who later escaped out a window, told police that Garcia “was acting delusional and seeing things that didn’t exist.”

Thursday’s release provided the most detailed account to date of the events leading up to the shooting sometime after 6 a.m. Saturday near West Steele Lane and Iroquois Street.

“This is pretty comprehensive,” Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum said. The new information “depicts everything we could see in the body cameras,” and it incorporates autopsy results and statements from the officers and witnesses.

Soon after emergency dispatchers received a report of a disturbance, Vlahandreas and Officer Jeffrey Badger arrived at the home. There they met two men, including the stabbed roommate, who had blood on his clothing. The officers were directed to Garcia’s bedroom, but it appeared the man had exited out an open window.

However, Crum said, Vlahandreas later heard a noise in the bedroom. The two officers lifted up bed mattresses and searched through a large amount of clutter. Beneath a bed frame they found Garcia, naked and wielding a 12-inch kitchen knife.

About seven minutes elapsed from when the two officers found Garcia until the shooting occurred, Crum said. The officers first pleaded with Garcia in Spanish and English to drop the knife and four minutes later began firing Tasers and using tear gas.

A third officer, Park McAllister, was just entering the home’s front door as Vlahandreas fired his pistol. Garcia moved from the hall into a nearby bathroom and shut the door.

After the shooting, another 10 minutes elapsed before a team of officers using a “riot/protective type shield” entered the bathroom and found Garcia unconscious on the floor. Before their entrance, officers helped evacuate other residents from the house, and a Spanish-speaking officer tried to get Garcia to surrender. Crum said he believed that Garcia offered some sort of response.

Once inside the bathroom, emergency personnel performed lifesaving efforts, but Garcia was soon pronounced dead.

Vlahandreas joined the Santa Rosa department in March from Scotts Valley. He has been a police officer for three years.

The Sheriff’s Office next will assemble and complete its report of the shooting and send it for review to the county’s District Attorney’s Office, Crum said.

Court records show Garcia was deported after serving about eight months in jail for a March 15 incident in Santa Rosa when he barged into a stranger’s house brandishing a kitchen knife in each hand and detained a mother and her children as they prepared for school. A family member said Garcia returned within days of deportation and resumed working in vineyards near Healdsburg and Santa Rosa.

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 707-521-5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @rdigit.

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