By Michele Gile

ORANGE ( — Orange police shot and killed a knife-wielding van driver in Orange early Monday morning.

The shooting happened around 12:30 a.m. at Katella Avenue and Glassell Street where officers pulled Michael Perez, 33, over for having a broken tail light.

Police said he refused to exit the white GMC van and proceeded to light a cigarette when there was a can of gasoline in the vehicle.

So officers broke the passenger side window and shot water from a fire hose into the van to “prevent the suspect from setting fire to himself” and to the van, said Sgt. Rob Thorsen of the Orange Police Department.

“They broke out some windows. They filled the car up with water to prevent him from igniting the container or the gas rag,” said Lt. Fred Lopez. “He comes out through the driver’s window. And at some point, they tried to detain him, but he produces a knife. He reaches behind his back and actually have a knife.”

Officers fired rubber bullets at Perez to try and subdue him. When that didn’t work, an officer shot Perez in the chest.

Paramedics took him to a hospital where he died.

Court records showed Perez had an extensive criminal history, including weapons and drug charges.

Leo Felinga said he knew Perez as a customer at his gas station. “He was always paranoid that…people were after him, people spying on him, people following him,” Felinga added.


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