San Jose

Mother of 18-Year-Old Fatally Shot by SJPD Officer Demands Answers

An armed man with a self-inflicted wound was fatally shot by two officers in the East San Jose foothills on Monday, police Chief Eddie Garcia said.

Police have not yet identified the man, but his mother, who spoke to NBC Bay Area Tuesday, said his name was Anthony Nuñez. The 18-year-old was reportedly suicidal and toting a gun on the 900 block of Feller Avenue near Story Road shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, Garcia said during a news conference Tuesday.

Arriving officers weren't able to make contact with Nuñez for 15 minutes, during which time they learned he was inside the home and had shot himself in the head, Garcia said.

The officers backed away to the other side of the street when they saw the suspect come out with a handgun and attempted to negotiate with him for the next 14 minutes, the chief said.

"The officers retreated in an attempt to calm him down and try to get him to give up and surrender peacefully," Garcia said.

A member of the department's Crisis Intervention Team "pleaded" with Nuñez to drop the gun as he went in and out of the residence, Garcia said.

The suspect aimed the weapon at himself and later at the officers. Two officers responded by firing at least one round from their rifles that killed Nuñez, the chief said.

"Our officers did they best they could under the circumstances," Garcia said, noting that investigators have learned that Nuñez was "very despondent." He didn't comment further on the man's mental health.

Meanwhile, Nuñez's mother painted a vastly different picture .

Sandy Sanchez was vacationing in Washington when she received a call from her nephew, who discovered Nuñez, bloody, in a room with a gunshot wound. He took the gun from Nuñez, and hid it, and called 911, she said. 

"I come home to my son being dead," she said. "He's no longer with us and I'm trying to make sense of everything. He was well and alive and happy ... Now I have to bury my son. Over what?"

Police agree Nuñez was unarmed at some point, but say he again grabbed the gun, which was found near his body.

Sanchez said her son was a "happy-go-lucky" young man, who had some run-ins with the law as a minor, but had "straightened" himself out. About a month ago, he began working at Mi Pueblo, a grocery store, and got a new car, she said.

His friends and others who knew Nuñez will "vouch" for the fact that he wasn't the type to "attempt to take his life," Sanchez said. She admitted, however, that her son had seemed "really sad" and "really depressed" since she went out of town and asked her to return home quickly. 

Sanchez said the gun belonged to her father, but did not know how Nuñez got a hold of it. She discredited Garcia's telling of the shooting, accusing them of "covering up" details of the incident.

"They shoot and ask questions later," she said. 

Sanchez also appeared to be angered by the fact that Nuñez had been "left on the front porch for hours at a time after he was deceased."

"You have Tasers, you have beanbags," she said. "There's other methods of you taking somebody down without having to shoot to kill. Why shoot to kill every time?"

There were no police body-worn cameras that captured the incident, which remains under investigation, Garcia said. 

The two officers who shot at Nuñez have been placed on routine administrative leave, according to Garcia. One of the officers is a 15-year police veteran and the other has spent eight years with the department, he said.

Police expect to identify the suspect and officers on Wednesday, according to Garcia.

The San Jose Independent Police Auditor and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office are monitoring the police investigation, Garcia said.

Monday's incident was the second death in four officer-involved shootings in San Jose this year.

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