Tustin Police Gun Down Afghan Military Vet in Standoff Shootout
Tustin police responded to a call around 7 p.m. last night about a suicidal man. When they arrived, officers found him parked in the alleyway of an apartment complex at the 16200 block of Main Street across the street from the Santa Ana Zoo. The man ignored police commands to surrender and an hours-long standoff ensued.
According to Tustin police, the man displayed a handgun before firing rounds at cops from within his car. Officers returned fire, striking the man and ending the standoff. No police or bystanders were harmed in the shootout. Paramedics arrived on scene and transported the wounded man to a local hospital.
While police and local media have neither reported the man's name or condition, friends and family are mourning the death of 24-year-old army veteran Edwin Fuentes. "I spoke with him Monday night for about five minutes and he seemed okay," says Kara Sandoval, his longtime friend of ten years. "He had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. His convoy was hit by Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) in Afghanistan." Fuentes served as an infantry soldier in the Afghanistan War.
A GoFundMe page is raising money online for the Fuentes family in anticipation of funeral expenses. The page describes Fuentes as a veteran and displays a picture of him in military attire with an American flag in the background. He leaves behind a wife and son.
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The Weekly asked Tustin police if any crisis intervention teams assisted police during the standoff and if body-worn cameras captured the incident. "All officers are trained in mental health and crisis intervention," Tustin police spokesman Lt. Bob Wright says. "That's why [the standoff] took almost two hours. We didn't want it to end like this." No outside mental health professionals were called to the scene to assist with negotiations.
Last year, the Tustin city council approved the purchase of 100 body-worn cameras and officers are already wearing them out on the field. "Several of our officers did have body cameras," says Lt. Wright. "Our patrol cars have cameras, too." Tustin police are in the process of reviewing possible footage of the officer-involved shooting.
As with all officer-involved shootings, the Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office is investigating the incident. When the OCDA concludes its report on criminal culpability, they'll publish the legal findings on the agency's website.
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