California Police Officer Accidentally Kills Bystander After Attempting to Shoot at Suspect

A police officer in California accidentally killed a bystander while attempting to shoot at a suspect over the past weekend.

According to a press release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, the incident occurred on Saturday at around 9:40 p.m. local time, when an officer with the Guadalupe Police Department recognized a suspect wanted on a "no-bail felony arrest warrant."

The officer noticed the suspect near the intersection of Birch and Obispo Streets, the press release said.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said when the Guadalupe Police Officer noticed the suspect, he fired his service weapon.

According to the press release, when the Guadalupe Police Officer fired his gun at the wanted suspect, the bullet instead hit "an uninvolved resident who was sitting in a vehicle in the 100 block of Obispo Street."

The victim that sustained the gunshot wound was identified as 59-year-old Juan Luis Olvera-Preciado of Guadalupe, California. Olvera-Preciado was pronounced deceased at the scene at approximately 10:13 p.m., the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said.

"The suspect with the felony warrant was ultimately arrested at the scene. Neither the officers nor the suspect were injured," the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said in the press release.

Shortly after the bystander was shot, Guadalupe Police Chief Michael Cash called Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office detectives and forensics technicians to assist with the investigation.

The press release said when detectives arrived to the scene, they "quickly realized that this incident met the criteria of AB1506, which requires the Attorney General's Office to investigate incidents of officer-involved shootings that result in the death of an unarmed civilian."

According to the press release, the California Department of Justice is currently leading a criminal investigation into the incident, along with the help of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

"The Santa Maria Police Department will conduct the administrative investigation at the request of Chief Cash," the press release said.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office noted that Guadalupe Police Chief Cash "personally" met with the family of Olvera-Preciado "to offer his condolences and to coordinate support services."

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office did not release the name of the suspect that was arrested. The identity of the Guadalupe Police officer that shot the bystander is being withheld "pending additional interviews and investigative processes," the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said.

Newsweek was directed to the press release after reaching out to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office for further comment.

Police Line
A California police officer accidentally killed a bystander while attempting to shoot at a suspect wanted on a no-bail felony arrest warrant. The identity of the police officer that shot the bystander is currently being withheld. Larry W. Smith/Getty