Teen Fatally Shot in Victorville Was Experiencing Mental Health Crisis, Sheriff Says

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The boy, armed with a knife, had locked himself in a bathroom and threatened to harm himself. A struggle with deputies ended with gunfire.

A teen fatally shot by deputies in Victorville this week was a foster youth experiencing a mental health crisis, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

In an April 3 press conference, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said the 17-year-old boy, whose identity has not been released, had been involuntarily committed three days prior to the shooting after he had cut his wrists. Under California law, a so-called 5150 hold allows for the involuntary 72-hour hold of an individual if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others.

The boy was being transported from a local hospital to a mental care facility when he “absconded” and showed up at the home of his two sisters—who had been placed in a separate foster care home, according to Mr. Dicus.

The foster parents reported the teen as a trespasser, but he locked himself in a bathroom and, armed with a knife, threatened to harm himself.

“After multiple attempts to deescalate the situation and have him exit, deputies entered the bathroom and attempted to apprehend the male,” said an April 2 sheriff’s department press release.

Deputies used pepper spray, but the boy resisted.

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One deputy opened fire, and the teen was struck and pronounced dead when transported to a hospital, according to the press release.

One deputy’s hand was sliced with the knife.

At the press conference, Mr. Dicas mourned the “significant tragedy,” while saying the state must “realize we can do better” with mental health crises.

Dicus called it “the overriding issue.”

“We have a mental health crisis on our hands, not just in this county, but in the entire state,” he said.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Specialized Investigations Division is reviewing the incident.

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