Flowers lay outside the Carl’s Jr. in Monterey Park where Steven Rodriguez, 22, was shot and killed by police after a confrontation with officers following a violent rampage.
Monterey Park police were called to the location near Atlantic Boulevard and Cesar Chavez Avenue after Rodriquez systematically shattered the restaurant’s plate glass windows with a crowbar-like, three-feet long metal object.
"When he finished breaking windows, he came inside," said shift manager Humberto Mena, who directed customers to exit the restaurant.
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The confrontation with Monterey Park police was recorded by witnesses and posted on YouTube. The graphic video shows Rodriguez coming out the front door and into the parking lot, where police were waiting with weapons drawn. Still holding the metal rod, Rodriguez appears to ignore their commands.
Police tried to stop him with a taser , but Rodriquez seemed unfazed as he pulled the taser darts from his face and coat. He then appears to turn and confront the officer who fired the taser.
"It appears that he tried to hit one of the officers, at which point the shooting occurred," said Sheriff’s Homicide Lt. Eddie Hernandez.
The reports of 10 gunshots could be heard. Rodriguez went down, mortally wounded.
The turn of events stunned the campus of adjacent East Los Angeles College. Several students were inside the Carl's Jr. when Rodriguez began breaking the windows. Others came from campus after viewing the video posted on YouTube.
"A lot of people think the police overreacted,” said student Eddie Etue. “Some people were saying that the cops were threatened so they were justified."
The threat to the officers seemed evident in the video but Lt. Hernandez was asked if different tactics might have kept the officers at a safer distance and prevented the need for deadly force.
"Optimally, you don't want to get that close but these situations obviously occur rapidly, they evolve really fast and sometimes your time to react is very limited," said Lt. Hernandez.
At the Carl's Jr., every one of its windows remained boarded up, but the restaurant has re-opened.