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California teen with mental health issues wielding knife shot, killed by deputies

Southern California sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a 17-year-old boy with mental health issues after he armed himself with a knife and locked himself inside a bathroom at a home, authorities said Wednesday.

The teen was being transferred from a hospital, where he had been treated after cutting himself, to a mental health facility when he escaped on Tuesday, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said.

The boy, a foster youth who lives in Hesperia, later showed up at a home in Victorville where his sisters live in foster care, Dicus said. Someone at the home called deputies to come arrest him, Dicus said, because he had caused trouble there before.

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The teen, who had a knife, locked himself in a bathroom, and deputies tried to get him to come out for about a half hour, according to the sheriff. But when the boy threatened to harm himself, deputies kicked down the door and tried to apprehend him, Dicus said.

San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus speaks during a press conference in Hesperia on Sept. 27, 2022. (Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images)

A video and still images of the encounter showed the teen holding a knife, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported. Deputies pepper-sprayed him, and one deputy’s hand was sliced by the knife, the newspaper said.

The teen was backed into a bathtub, where he was shot, Dicus said. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

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The death came less than a month after San Bernardino deputies shot and killed 15-year-old Ryan Gainer. The autistic boy had threatened family members at a home in Victorville and then chased a responding deputy with a garden hoe, the sheriff’s department said.

Dicus said Wednesday that in both cases, deputies were met with violence. He said parents need more access to mental health services for their troubled children, so that law enforcement isn’t the only option in times of crisis.

“My record as sheriff for the last several years is I have championed having a better mental health system,” Dicus said. “The corrections environment and our public environment have been challenged a number of times where the only mental health resource we have in our community is law enforcement, and that’s the only 24/7 resource that we have.”

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