A veteran police officer fatally shot a man armed with a handgun early Friday who had been downtown celebrating his 30th birthday, Fort Worth police said.
Rebecca Vallejo, the mother of the fatally wounded man, said her son Phillip turned 30 on Thursday and was marking the occasion with friends.
“My daughter-in-law who was there with other friends tried to tell me what happened, but she was too hysterical and I was not able to understand what she was trying to tell me,” Rebecca Vallejo said.
The encounter occurred about 1:30 a.m. after police on routine patrol saw several people involved in an altercation at West Fifth and Houston streets outside the Ojos Locos Sports Cantina.
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Rebecca Vallejo said she found out shortly after the shooting, when her daughter-in-law’s brother knocked on her front door.
“He said police shot my son five times and he was in critical condition,” Rebecca Vallejo said.
They went to John Peter Smith Hospital, where a doctor told them that, despite the hospital’s best efforts, Phillip Vallejo couldn’t be saved, she said.
According to police, approaching officers noticed Phillip Vallejo was armed with a handgun. They identified themselves as police and ordered Phillip Vallejo to drop the weapon “several times,” said Sgt. Steven Enright, a police spokesman.
The suspect “then turned and faced the officer as if to confront him with the weapon,” Enright said.
Believing that Phillip Vallejo was about to shoot, the officer fired, striking him multiple times. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner report says Phillip Vallejo’s death was caused by multiple gunshot injuries.
Family members disputed the idea that Vallejo was waving a gun, according to WFAA News.
While there is no body camera video, investigators have collected video from the area, Enright said.
“Downtown is just laden with cameras everywhere,” Enright said. “From what I understand, one camera had a really good viewpoint and showed the entire incident.”
The officer involved is a 23-year veteran assigned to the downtown bicycle unit, police said. Officials have not yet released his name.
Two sergeants and 18 officers are assigned to the unit, according to the Fort Worth police website. Officers patrol in 10-hour shifts seven days a week.
Staff writers Deanna Boyd, Mitch Mitchell and Kathy Vetter contributed to this report.