A suicidal man who apparently wanted police to shoot him walked onto southbound Highway 99 near the Lathrop Road overcrossing Wednesday morning setting up a confrontation that led to him advancing on officers while refusing to drop a knife. He was shot after a Taser failed to stop him.
The 57-year-old man threatened California Highway Patrol and Manteca officers at 10 a. m. in the northbound lanes of Highway 99. Officers shot three times while the man refused repeated orders to drop his knife as he advanced on police.
As the man fell the pavement in the fast lane three women ran frantically up to the chain link fence on the west side of the freeway, saying they knew the man and hoped he was still alive. The man was transported to an area hospital where he is listed in critical condition.
Manteca Police public information officer Sgt. Michael Aguilar said a CHP officer had first unsuccessfully deployed a stun gun on the man and then a Manteca officer fired his duty weapon. Aguilar said the man was walking into oncoming traffic in the inside lane shouting suicidal comments when police were called.
An eye witness to the shooting, Brent Lynn, said he heard yelling while at his property management job on the other side of the sound wall when officers were attempting to negotiate the subject into dropping his knife. He explained that he first ignored the commotion because he had a wheelbarrow full of dirt that he was pushing away from the retaining wall. He was gone for some 10 minutes. When he returned, the loud exchanges were still coming from the freeway. He looked over the wall and saw numerous officers on both sides of Highway 99.
Lynn went to the south end of the sound wall and looked around the edge of the retainer and “peeked” northward toward the voices when he saw an officer shoot the subject three times as he charged police with “something in his hand.” Another officer moved forward and kicked the object that Lynn said then appeared to be a knife — out of his grasp.
The witness said the subject was bald and of a thin build. He recalled having earlier seen two women with him. Motorists were parking alongside the freeway on the shoulder and getting out of their cars when officers used their loud speakers and ordered them back inside their vehicles in the southbound lanes.
Officers had stopped traffic on the Highway 99 in both directions as they tried to negotiate with the man for at least 20 minutes. The freeway remained closed for nearly two hours until the southbound lanes were opened first and then one lane of the northbound direction with a CHP officer keeping the flow to a crawl. During the closure southbound traffic was diverted off Lathrop Road and onto Main Street creating a massive traffic jam.
Officers said the man had entered the freeway from the Lathrop Road off ramp and walked down the northbound lanes of the freeway near the center divider carrying the knife, before officers were alerted by the public.
The northbound lanes backed up and remained closed for most of the day until about dusk as the officer involved shooting investigation continued.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email email@example.com.