HIGHLAND (CBSLA.com) — Authorities say a 16-year-old boy has been hospitalized in serious condition after being shot at least twice by a deputy in San Bernardino County.
The incident unfolded just before 11 p.m. Saturday in the 7600 block of Rogers Lane in the city of Highland.
According to authorities, the teen’s family had dialed 911 to report that the teen was acting “erratic” and that they required assistance.
“They were worried because he had a sharp object and he was threatening them,” said Sgt. Travis Newport with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
When deputies arrived on scene, they located the suspect — now identified as Joshua Alvaraz — walking away from the family’s residence. Deputies said that an arriving officer attempted to stop Alvaraz.
“The subject turned around and produced a hammer and a sharp object and attempted to attack one of the deputy sheriffs,” said Sgt. Newport.
The teen’s family told CBS2’s Joy Benedict there was no attempted attack.
“They asked two to three times for him to put the hammer down and then they shot him. My nephew did not attack,” said his aunt Francine Salcido.
“It is horrible. He is only 16. They could have used other force. They couldn’t use a Taser?,” said Salcido.
She acknowledged that the family called 911.
“We are crying for help,” she said, “not for [the deputies] to come and make it worse. He fights with his brother, like all kids do. He’s a teenager. They argue a lot. He’s a sweet kid.”
Salcido said her nephew was shot twice. Doctors removed one of his kidneys and half his liver.
“He’s fighting for his life,” said Salcido.
Sunday night, the teen’s family and friends held a vigil for him.
Neighbor Paula Garcia told KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo, “They should have just Tasered him. Or shoot him in the leg. Or shoot the floor. They should never have shot him three times.”
The teen’s aunt, Joanna Bonilla, told Fajardo she made the 911 call but insisted her nephew never lunged at deputies of lifted the hammer.
“He wasn’t running. He wasn’t even speed walking. They could have easily tackled him down,” said Bonilla.
The brother with whom Joshua was fighting also addressed the crowd and said he wished he hadn’t fought with his brother but talked out their issues.
“I wish I just talked it out with him,” said Augustine Alvarez, “instead of arguing with him. He’s a good kid. He wouldn’t fight nobody.”
No deputies were injured.
The incident remains under investigation.