A man armed with at least three knives allegedly chased a teenage girl through La Mesa Monday before charging a patrolman with a machete over his head, prompting the officer to shoot him, authorities reported.
The suspect, later identified as 34-year-old Bernard Graham of Spring Valley, suffered gunshot wounds to his abdomen and one of his arms when the lawman opened fire on him about 9 a.m. near La Mesa Skatepark, according to police.
Medics took Graham to Sharp Memorial Hospital, where he underwent surgery and was in stable condition as of late afternoon, La Mesa Police Department Capt. Ray Sweeney said.
The events that led to the police shooting began when a man in a black leather jacket confronted a 13-year-old girl near a trolley station while she was walking to school and threw a pocket knife at her, striking her with it.
“The victim stated that the man had other large knives on his person and in his pockets,” Sweeney said.
The terrified girl ran off, and the assailant gave chase, according to police. The teen managed to elude her pursuer by fleeing into a nearby shopping center and taking refuge in a sandwich shop, where she reported what had happened, Sweeney said.
Police arrived a short time later to find Graham near the intersection of Fletcher Parkway and Amaya Drive, holding a large machete-style knife in his hand. The suspect ignored the officers’ commands to drop the weapon, instead running off in the direction of the strip mall where the victim had fled, according to Sweeney.
Moments later he stopped, then allegedly turned toward one of the officers and charged at him with the machete raised above his head.
“And the officer, unfortunately, in this situation had to fire his weapon to protect himself,” Sweeney said.
The patrolman who shot the suspect was placed on paid desk duty pending completion of investigations in the case, as is routine in officer- involved shootings. His name was not immediately available.
Graham was expected to be charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and criminal counts involving his alleged attack on and harassment of the schoolgirl.
Though traumatized, the teen was physically unharmed, Sweeney told reporters.
–City News Service
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