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Man fatally shot by Huntington Beach police is ID’d, as additional video shows him pointing a covered object

A man shot and killed by police on the sand near the U.S. Open of Surfing venue in Huntington Beach was identified on Sunday, as a passerby’s video circulating on social media shows more of what happened in the moments before the shooting.

The man was Ronnie Andrew Garcia, 43 years old, his city of residence unknown, authorities said.

In the video, a group of five or six Huntington Beach police officers trudges across the sand, moving to surround a man they believe is armed with a gun.

Garcia — with a bald head, blue basketball shorts and a white T shirt —  slowly backs away from the line of officers. Looking straight ahead, he would have been staring directly into the patio of Sandy’s Beach Shack, where dozens of diners are seated.

He fumbles with a small bundle, an object swaddled in a white shirt. Suddenly, he extends his arm outwards, pointing the bundle in the officers’ direction.

“Stop! Stop!” one of the officers can be heard shouting. Then, a barrage of bullets.

Garcia collapses on the ground, writhing in pain. The officers yell at him to stay on the ground. He grabs for the bundle again, revealing what looks like a small black object.

Officers open fire again, sand erupting around the man as he is riddled with bullets. They fire until he lies still.

While it’s not clear from the video what the object is, police later said they recovered a gun. Others present also said they saw the man point a gun at officers.

The shooting is under investigation by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Huntington Beach police. The confrontation happened within view of hundreds of visitors to the Huntington Beach pier Saturday at around 3:15 p.m.

Many would have been hanging out after the nearby U.S. Open of Surfing wrapped up for the day. It’s a world-famous event despite a smaller turnout this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of people would have been packed nearby: On the sand, along the boardwalk, inside the restaurants overlooking the beach and on Main Street.

After Garcia was shot, police and paramedics performed chest compressions on him for about 10 minutes until he was taken away in an ambulance. He later died.

Johnny Aranda was seated at a table on the Sandy’s Beach Shack patio eating with friends when he heard a series of loud pops behind him.

“It didn’t sound loud enough at first to be gunfire,” said Aranda, 48. “But then I saw police, and then I thought, OK, that’s gunfire.”

When he saw the officers running, he got out of his seat and ran to a window; He said he watched as the man pointed a gun at officers, and as police shot him on the ground. People inside Sandy’s were screaming.

“It was surreal, I was like, ‘Is this really happening?’” Aranda said. “You always dread that you go somewhere and a shooting occurs.”

The shooting took place near the pathway leading to the outermost vendors of the event, steps away from an official U.S. Open of Surfing merchandise stand. The video of the man was partially blocked by pylons bearing the names of U.S. Open competitors from the past.

If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, the U.S. Open might have been a lot bigger, with thousands more spectators on Saturday.

“This was a much more scaled-down version of the U.S. Open, almost unrecognizable,” said Jennifer Carey, a spokeswoman for Huntington Beach police.

The event still retained its famously laid-back vibe — anyone enjoying the beach or taking in the surfing competition can walk through the exhibition areas or view the action from the pier, free of charge.

Regardless, Carey said Huntington Beach maintained the same amount of security for the event as years past.

“We increase staffing at the pier for any major influx of visitors,” Carey said. “Hopefully something like this never happens again.”

The city announced Sunday it is offering emotional support services to anyone who witnessed the shooting or was in the vicinity. Those wanting to learn more should contact Tony Delgado at Be Well OC at 949-749-2301, the Huntington Beach Police Department announced on its Facebook page. Huntington Beach residents also can call or text the free and confidential O.C. WarmLine at 714-991-6412, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the announcement said. The line is run by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Additionally, the city plans to host a community meeting on an as-yet undetermined date.


Source: Orange County Register

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