Published On: Sun, May 8th, 2016

California man, Lionel Gibson, shot and killed by police, carrying an air rifle

Police shot and killed a man identified as Lionel Gibson, who was carrying what turned out to be an airsoft rifle late Saturday afternoon in Long Beach.

Sgt. Megan Zabel, spokeswoman for the Long Beach Police Department, spoke at a news conference explaining how the officers were reponding to a call of a man with “an Uzi-style gun,” coming upon the man while he was speaking with three others who were inside a vehicle.

“Officers arrived on scene within minutes and they located the suspect and the vehicle that was described,” Zabel said. “At this point an officer-involved shooting occurred.”

photo/Alan Cleaver

photo/Alan Cleaver

Gibson, 21, was struck by gunfire and was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene. There were no details released as the motive for the officers opening fire.

The three male individuals in the vehicle, one of whom was in possession of a handgun, were detained for questioning, police said.

An airsoft rifle was also recovered near the man who was shot, according to Zabel.

“We don’t have reason to believe that there was an exchange of gunfire,” Sgt. Zabel stated, adding that the gun look authentic: “I’ve seen a picture of it. It looks very realistic.”

Officers gave several commands to place hands up, but when the suspect did not comply and reached his hand toward the butt of the gun in his waistband, police opened fire, according to the LBPD.

According to the photos released from the scene, there was no orange tip or orange paint on the gun indicating that it was not a “real” rifle.

A section of southbound Long Beach Boulevard was closed near the scene, prompting traffic congestion in the area.


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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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