The man shot by police Sunday night pointed a loaded gun at an officer twice before the officer fired on him, officials with the Aurora Police Department said Tuesday.
Two officers were patrolling the "motel row" area near East Iliff and Interstate 225 in an unmarked police car equipped with lights and a siren at about 11 p.m., Aurora Police Sgt. Matthew Fyles said in a news conference.
The officers were aware that there had been a stabbing at the Burlington Coat Factory at 1200 South Abilene Street an hour earlier, according to Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz. That is about a mile and a half away.
The officers in the unmarked car pulled over a vehicle with a defective tail light at 11:04 p.m., Chief Metz said during the news conference. Metz said the officers smelled marijuana.
Sgt. Fyles said a third officer in the area arrived to "provide additional cover."
The officers ran a check on the four people in the car and found at least some of them had records for being armed, violent, and affiliated with gangs, Fyles said.
As the officers started getting the people out of the car and conducting pat-downs, one of the occupants got out and ran, Fyles said. That man has been identified as Natnael Gebretsadik, 19.
One officer ran after Gebretsadik and Gebretsadik produced a handgun "that was clearly visible to the officer," said Fyles.
Fyles said Gebretsadik ignored orders to drop the gun and the officer who was chasing him warned other officers he was armed.
During the chase, Gebretsadik tripped and fell to the ground, Metz and Fyle said.
"[He] rolled in a position that put him face to face with the pursuing officer. He raised the firearm at that point, causing the officer to fear for his life," Fyles said.
Gebretsadik was able to get back to his feet and continued running. He pointed the gun at the officer again.
"The officer, fearing for his life, discharged his weapon," said Fyles.
Gebretsadik was shot in the pelvic region and remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, according to Fyles.
The officers took Gebretsadik into custody and treated his injuries until help arrived, Fyles said.
Gebretsadik has 26 prior arrests on charges including robbery, weapons offenses and aggravated assault, according to Fyles.
Police do not believe he is connected to the stabbing at Burlington Coat Factory.
Fyles said one of the other people in the car was in possession of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, and "engaged in altercation with officers and had to be subdued" during the arrest.
The other two people in the car were not charged.
When the police chief was asked why he felt there had been four officer-involved shootings in two weeks in Aurora, Metz said it was "kind of an anomaly."
"I think there's something we all need to keep in mind here. In all four situations, officers confronted subjects with a gun. In one situation it was a replica gun. In all four situations, the individuals chose to point and threaten the officers with those guns. In all four situations, the individuals failed to follow the officers' directives to either drop the gun or stop their actions," Metz said.
"We are seeing a growing trend around the country and I think it's appropriate, totally appropriate, that the press and the community ask 'Why are officers being involved in these types of shootings?'" said Metz. "But I think the other question that needs to be asked is 'Why are people feeling so emboldened to be willing to pull a gun out and point it at an officer in a threatening or menacing manner?'"
"They should expect that there is going to be a response by that officer," Metz continued. "I pay my officers to take risks. They take risks every single day."
"There is no such thing as a 'routine traffic stop.' When you're approaching a vehicle and you have no idea who you're approaching, when you have absolutely no idea what is in that vehicle, what they may be trying to run from or run to, the officers take those risks every day," Metz said.
"These officers were put in a situation where they had to make a split-second decision," said Metz.
"I still believe, even with everything that's gone on in the last two weeks, that Aurora is a very safe city," Metz said.
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