State

Officer shoots man at Modesto's 5 Points

A police officer shot and injured a man suspected of carrying a replica handgun Thursday evening in downtown Modesto after police believe he tried to sell the gun as a real weapon.

The shooting occurred about 6:20 p.m. in front of the Jack in the Box restaurant at Five Points, the junction of J Street and McHenry Avenue.

The injured man was taken by ambulance to a Modesto hospital. Authorities did not know the extent of his injuries. The man's name, age and city of residence were not available Thursday night.

No other injuries were reported.

Thursday's incident was the third officer-involved shooting by a Modesto police officer in two weeks and the fifth this year.

Acting Modesto Police Chief Mike Harden said Thursday night that it was unclear what prompted the officer to fire his gun at the suspect.

Investigators were gathering information at the scene, he said, trying to determine what happened during the confrontation between police and the man. He said officers also are victims in such circumstances, when they are threatened and have to resort to deadly force.

"There's no rhyme or reason," Harden said about this month's officer-involved shootings. "We don't understand why this happens in sprees like this."

The incident began in front of Suzie's Adult Superstore on McHenry Avenue, less than block north of the shooting scene.

The man approached another man in front of the adult store and apparently tried to sell him the gun, said Modesto police Lt. Clint Raymer. The second man didn't buy the gun and called police instead.

Raymer said the caller told police that the man tried to sell him a 9mm handgun. The caller also gave police a description of the man.

Officers responded and found a man matching the description given by the caller in front of the fast food restaurant. Raymer said he couldn't say what happened next, because it was being investigated.

He did say the officer fired his gun and hit the suspect. Officers found what appeared to be a replica pistol on the ground next to the injured man.

Raymer said it appeared that the replica gun was the weapon the man tried to sell in front of the adult store.

Officers cordoned off the restaurant and its parking lot as other officers spoke to witnesses.

The first officer-involved shooting this month took place Dec. 12, when police shot and wounded an 18-year-old man suspected of fleeing an attempted burglary and driving a pickup directly at the officers at Johansen High School in east Modesto.

Michael Baker of Modesto suffered a gunshot wound to the chest that was not life-threatening and was taken by ambulance to a hospital for treatment before he was booked at Stanislaus County Jail.

On Dec. 15, two officers fired shots at Elizabeth Catherine Kropp after she ran toward them carrying a meat cleaver at Catherine Everett Elementary School in north Modesto.

Kropp, 43, of Modesto was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Kropp, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, walked onto the campus cutting herself with the meat cleaver.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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