Authorities Monday publicly identified five lawmen who opened fire on an unarmed Vista man, killing him, when he allegedly approached them in a threatening manner following a standoff on a Camp Pendleton-area freeway offramp.

Orange County Sheriff's Department cruiser. Photo by John Schreiber.
Orange County Sheriff’s Department cruiser. Photo by John Schreiber.
Taking part in the shooting of Daniel Robert Avila, 55, last week were Deputies Chris Lamberta and David Zill and Sgt. Doug Ellithorpe of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Border Patrol Agents Mark Aluia and Anthony Fazio.

The events that led to the gunfire began about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, when Avila pulled up next to an Orange County sheriff’s deputy conducting a traffic stop on the southbound side of I-5, aggressively made a comment about having committed a crime and claimed to have a weapon, according Lt. John Maryon of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Avila then parked on the I-5 exit to Las Pulgas Road and ignored orders to exit his small white sedan, prompting the deputy to call for backup, the lieutenant said. More personnel from his agency responded, along with federal officers.

The suspect continued refusing to leave his vehicle until shortly before 1:30 p.m., when he got out, raised his right arm perpendicular to his body with a black shirt covering his hand, pointed it toward some of the surrounding law enforcement personnel and began walking toward them, Maryon said.

When a deputy tried to subdue him with a nonlethal projectile, Avila paused for a moment, then held up his cloaked arm again. At that point, the three sheriff’s officers and two border agents discharged a fusillade of gunfire, killing the suspect at the scene.

Avila turned out to have been unarmed.

“It appears he used his (covered) hand to simulate a weapon,” Maryon said last week.

None of the law enforcement personnel who responded to the emergency were injured.

— City News Service

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