A neighbor and a friend of a 61-year-old disabled woman are wondering why one or more sheriff's deputies shot her to death early Saturday in her driveway in the Burbank area of unincorporated San Jose.
The woman was killed at about 12:17 a.m. Saturday after at least one Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy shot her as she confronted them with a knife outside a triplex on Cleveland Avenue near Olive Avenue, according to Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup.
Deputies have not confirmed the woman's name and the office's homicide unit is conducting an investigation that will be monitored by the district attorney's office, Stenderup said.
About two dozen candles from well-wishers stood today with some flowers at a makeshift memorial on the still blood-stained driveway outside the apartment the woman had shared with her husband.
A neighbor in the triplex, Chris Contreras, 27, questioned the sheriff's office's decision to use deadly force and why the agency does not use Tasers instead to subdue people.
"I really think they should have Tasered her," Contreras said of his neighbor, whom he identified as Andrea Najarro. "It's very unsettling if the person doesn't need to die and just needs to be restrained."
Contreras said he heard that Najarro was only carrying a steak knife when she was shot.
"She was sweet," Contreras said. "She had a key to our house, that's how we trusted her."
Contreras said he was in his home with his fiancé early Saturday when he heard a crashing noise similar to broken glass, then yelling and three gunshots outside.
A man who identified himself only as Tony who came by to drop off a floral bouquet said that he had been a friend of Najarro and her husband for the past 15 years they lived at the apartment.
"That's just excessive," Tony said of the shooting. "What if it (a shot) went into the apartment complex and struck a child?"
Najarro was 61 years old, on disability with multiple sclerosis, had cancer and recently tested positive for tuberculosis, he said.
The shooting happened minutes after Najarro's husband decided to leave home for the night after Najarro, who had been drinking alcohol, became upset and started to break a guitar over a wooden railing outside her apartment, he said.
"He doesn't know what to do," Tony said of his friend.
Pastor Wilfred Martinez of a home-based ministry at the other end of Cleveland Avenue and who stopped by to deposit an arrangement of colored paper roses, said that he and others held a candle and prayer vigil for Najarro on her driveway Sunday night.
Martinez said he also heard the shots from his home down the street.
"You just don't kill someone at that age," Martinez said. "It's
just sad the way it happened. They could have wrestled her down. But to fire three or four shots..."
Stenderup said an autopsy on the woman's body was conducted Monday by the medical examiner's office and more on the investigation would be established by next week.
"When details are released about what occurred, I think it will paint a better picture about what happened," Stenderup said. "We're asking people to be patient with us. We're still very young in this investigation."
Stenderup confirmed that sheriff's office deputies do not carry Tasers.