Man shot, killed by California police after standoff was Army veteran who struggled with PTSD

By CHRIS HAIRE AND ALMA FAUSTO | The Orange County Register (Tribune News Service) | Published: May 18, 2017

TUSTIN, Calif. — A man fatally shot by police Tuesday night after a two-hour standoff was identified as 24-year-old Edwin Fuentes, who, a close friend said, served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and struggled with PTSD.

At about 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 16, there was a call of a suicidal man in Tustin, Calif. near the Santa Ana Zoo and Prentice Park. Officers found Fuentes sitting in a car in an alley behind an apartment complex, Tustin Lt. Bob Wright said.

They saw that Fuentes had a handgun and a standoff began, with other officers pulling up as backup.

“Nearly our entire department responded,” Wright said.

Officers tried talking to Fuentes for “a couple of hours,” Wright said, asking him to surrender.

But he then fired off several rounds from his car, Wright added, and police returned fire. Officers provided medical aid before an ambulance took him to the hospital, where he died.

No officers were injured.

Ashley Cannon, the close friend, said on Wednesday that Fuentes struggled after returning from his tour of duty in 2013.

“This is something he was battling for three years,” she said Wednesday.

Fuentes, who lived in Tustin and had a wife and a young son, served with Cannon’s husband and became like family.

She said her friend had not had run-ins with the law before. Orange County court records support that.

“He was an uncle to my kids,” she said.

Cannon said Fuentes received treatment while still in the Army but had since had difficulty finding resources.

“He was a really good guy, a family man,” Cannon said. “But he was struggling.”

Michael Lopez, one of Fuentes’ neighbors at the complex, said Fuentes would visit his apartment three to four times a week to chat with him and his roommate, both military veterans, particularly about his emotional issues and PTSD.

“He was having problems and he wanted other vets to talk to,” Lopez said.

Fuentes did, Lopez said, have suicidal thoughts. Despite his troubles, Fuentes was a “pretty mellow person” who was going to trade school, Lopez said.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office, as is standard, will investigate the police shooting to see if it was justified.

©2017 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
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