A 20-year-old man who walked out of his house to investigate a commotion on his property was shot and killed Tuesday by an Anaheim police officer who was chasing four suspected burglars, police said.
Julian Alexander, a newlywed whose wife is pregnant with their first child, was shot about 1:30 a.m. shortly after going outside -- possibly with a broomstick in his hand -- to chase off people he thought were intruders on his family's front lawn in the 300 block of North Muller Street, according to police, relatives and witnesses.
A 32-year-old Anaheim police officer who was chasing four juveniles suspected of being involved in an earlier auto theft came around a corner and encountered Alexander. Mistakenly thinking Alexander was one of the burglars, the 10-year-veteran officer opened fire, striking the man in the chest, police said.
Alexander was taken to a hospital, where he died.
"I think they were trigger happy," said Alexander's mother-in-law, Michelle Mooney. "I think they ... didn't give a damn about his wife, about his family, who he was."
Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said three investigations will be conducted into the shooting.
"I certainly can't ever guess what's in the mind of a police officer, so I'm not going to speculate as to what he saw or what he didn't see or what he thought was in Mr. Alexander's hands," Welter said.
According to Anaheim police Sgt. Rick Martinez, the officer responded to a burglary call at North Muller Street and Bayport Circle, then chased four juveniles who ran from the scene and began jumping over fences.
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A short time later, the officer reported he was involved in a shooting, Martinez said, adding that it was not immediately clear exactly what triggered the gunfire. But police initially believed the officer had shot one of the suspects. Police handcuffed Alexander on the ground after he had been shot in the chest.
Welter said Alexander had armed himself with a club-style weapon and went outside to investigate sounds made by someone running through his property. The officer shot Alexander while the juveniles ran from the area. All four juveniles were eventually captured.
"To the family of Mr. Alexander, we extend our deepest sympathies," Welter said.
Asked if the shooting was justifiable, Welter said he could not say until a more thorough investigation is completed.
"So, I can't speculate as to whether or not this will be a justifiable, under the law, a justifiable shooting or not," Welter said.
"The last thing we ever want to do No. 1, take somebody's life and we certainly don't want to take the life of someone who is mistakenly believed to be involved in some criminal activity," he said.
Welter met about 30 of Alexander's relatives who came to the Police Department's headquarters.
Alexander's mother-in-law, Michelle Mooney, told the Orange County Register that the object he was carrying was a broomstick that was kept by the door for protection.
Details of the burglary that brought police to the area initially were not immediately available, police said.
Two of the juveniles were captured shortly after the shortly. The others were caught when police combed through a large containment area stretching from North Muller Street to the Santa Ana (5) Freeway.
Alexander lived in a single-family home with the family of his wife, Renee, 19. The couple got married a week ago and were expecting their first child on Dec. 14, according to the Register.
"I haven't seen him so happy in a long time," Alexander's father, Jerry, said. "And this is just hard to see he's gone now."
The shooting will be investigated by the Orange County District Attorney's Office, as is routinely done with officer-involved shooting.
Welter said he will ask the Office of Independent Review to conduct a separate investigation. When circumstances are warranted, the FBI is asked to conduct an investigation, he said.