Police kill man who shouted ‘Obama’ while shooting up apartment building

© Max Whittaker
The same day that President Obama announced executive actions on gun control, a man yelling, “Obama!” shot up an apartment building in Redding, California. Cell phone video shows police communicating with him, then opening fire when he raised his gun.

Redding police received a 911 call at 5:47pm Tuesday, reporting six to eight shots fired, according to the Shasta County Sheriff's Office, which is now investigating the incident. Officers arrived at 6:10 p.m., and after less lethal means failed, they shot and killed the suspect as he exited his apartment, pointing his gun at them.

The suspect remains unnamed as police try to notify his next of kin.

Before any shots had been fired, the suspect forced one of his neighbors, Kathy Lunsford, into his apartment.

“As soon as he shut the door, he hugged me and he kissed me on the forehead,” Lunsford told Record Searchlight. She clarified that they had spoken previously but were not friends.

Next, Lunsford describes him toying around with his gun, though she wasn’t quite sure if it was real. Soon, however, there was no doubt.

“He was aiming at a guy, and then he just got sloppy – he was shooting everywhere,” Lunsford said.

Another neighbor, Jason Lucero, told KRCR that the suspect "reached up took a shot, said something else, took another shot," then added, "He started talking about Obama or something, I really couldn't make it out."

Other neighbors corroborated the references to Obama, who just hours earlier had signed executive actions related to access to firearms for the mentally ill as well as other aspects of gun control.

Lunsford described the suspect’s behavior as “erratic” and thought he might be “on something.”

When officers arrived, they attempted to de-escalate the situation with less lethal beanbag rounds, followed by use of a K9, but those efforts were futile. Several officers had guns trained on the suspect’s apartment door, where the man kept coming out and going back in, police said at least 10 times.

The final time, cell phone video shows, the suspect raised his gun towards police, then was shot dead by nine police officers. Those officers are on administrative leave per county policy.

Some neighbors reported hearing 30 police shots, while others reported 70. It is unclear if the suspect fired his weapon. An autopsy is expected by early next week.

Cell phone video of the police-involved shooting was provided to KRCR, but it may not be the only cell phone footage. Police claim to have collected a video from a neighbor as evidence, saying it won’t be released publicly while it’s part of an ongoing investigation.

At the suspect’s home, police found a 9 mm Beretta pistol with used shell casings and live rounds in the magazine. The Recorder Spotlight reports that a letter posted to the front window was from the National Rifle Association requesting payment for a DVD titled “Combat Shooting and Home Defense Tips.”

A search warrant posted to the suspect’s residence carries the same name of the man addressed in the NRA letter. That name, which isn’t being released, belongs to a man who pleaded no contest to illegal discharge of a weapon in 2009, according to court documents, the Record Spotlight reports. Records also show that man serving 45 days in jail the next year for a probation violation. Additionally, there are dismissed misdemeanor battery charges from 2004.

Pamela Minor, a friend of the suspect’s, told the Record Spotlight that the suspect’s wife, who is separated from him, asked her to check on him. Minor said he had suffered from mental illness for decades.

On the day of the shooting, Minor called the local mental health department.

"I didn't want to call the cops because I knew this would happen," she said.