By JOSH FRIEDMAN
A man armed with a replica handgun carjacked a vehicle in Santa Maria on Thursday and then led officers on a chase before an officer shot him.
At about 5:30 p.m., the suspect stole the victim’s vehicle while wielding a gun in the 200 block of McElhaney Avenue. The suspect then fled the scene, according to the Santa Maria Police Department.
Shortly afterwards, a patrol officer located the stolen vehicle and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. A chase ensued with officers following the carjacker through the city.
Eventually, the suspect crashed the stolen vehicle in the parking lot of a business located in the 800 block of W. Cook Street.
The suspect, later identified as 24-year-old Francisco Gomez, exited the vehicle armed with a handgun, police said. An officer shot Gomez.
Gomez fled by foot, running to a nearby business. He threatened the business owner with the handgun, police said.
A struggle ensued, during which the business owner disarmed Gomez.
Officers then took Gomez into custody. Upon further investigation, officers determined the weapon was a BB gun that closely resembled an actual firearm.
Gomez is currently in stable condition at a hospital in the area, where he received treatment for his injuries. He will face multiple felony charges, including carjacking, evading, false imprisonment, burglary and assault with a deadly weapon.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s detectives will investigate the actions of the Santa Maria officers involved in the incident. The district attorney’s office will then review the investigation and determine whether the shooting was justified.
Additionally, the police department will conduct an internal investigation. The officer who shot Gomez is on paid administrative leave.