Update, Aug. 3, 4:00 P.M.: Santa Ana police released new details into an officer-involved shooting that occurred on Townsend street yesterday. "Officers saw several gang members loitering in the alley and attempted to contact them," the advisory update reads. "One of the suspects was armed with a handgun and a short foot pursuit ensued resulting in an officer involved shooting."
The man shot is identified as 24-year-old Armando Antunez, but Weekly readers already knew that. Police say the weapon they found on the scene was a loaded semi-automatic. Antunez was arrested for numerous weapons violations, gang enhancements and violating probation.
Original Post, Aug. 3, 12:27 p.m.: Santa Ana police shot a man around 6:15 p.m. Sunday evening on Townsend Street, a neighborhood that's been organizing against a gang injunction for more than a year. Though the injunction legal battle is languishing in the courts, the non-fatal shooting could ignite tensions anew with angry residents ready to protest yelling "fuera, fuera" (get out!) to police yesterday.
"Our gang officers were working the 800 block of South Townsend," Santa Ana police spokesman Cpl. Anthony Bertagna tells the Weekly. "For unknown reasons they made contact with the suspect, something occurred and an officer-involved shooting took place."
Police say the man was armed and that his handgun was recovered at the scene. Activists with Chicanos Unidos and CopWatch Santa Ana headed to Townsend yesterday evening as soon as they learned about the shooting. "The people from the neighborhood called us and told us who it was," says Gaby Hernandez of Chicanos Unidos. The group says the man shot by police is Armando Antunez, a 24-year-old originally named in the civil suit against Townsend Street but who got dropped from the injunction list.
Santa Ana police can't confirm the man's identity as of press time, but report that he is expected to recover from his injuries after being transported to UCI Medical Center in Orange. "He will probably be released for booking today," Bertagna says. Townsend residents initially told activists that Antunez got shot six times in the back, a charge police flatly deny.
"He was not shot 6 times," Bertagna counters. "I don't know where he was shot other than the lower torso." Hernandez, in contact with the man's parents, says Antunez suffered two gunshot wounds to the back and one in the wrist area.
Activists like Hernandez argue that yesterday's shooting underscores their reasons for fighting the gang injunction. "This is what we've been claiming, that this neighborhood will be vulnerable to police abuse," she says. "Although he's not on the injunction, his two brothers are, and he still got targeted."
An anti-gang injunction 'light-brigade' protest had already been planned in Townsend for tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. After the shooting, activists and residents are turning their attention towards demanding to know the name of the officer who shot Antunez.
As always, the Orange County District Attorney's office is investigating the shooting and will later release a report detailing their findings.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2