As family members and protesters on Monday demanded answers from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department about the deputy-involved shooting of a teenage boy, authorities said the boy told deputies he wanted to die.
Deputies had shot the boy, identified by his mother as 16-Joshua Alvarez, when they were responding to a report of a domestic disturbance at a home in Highland on Saturday night.
Deputies went to the 7400 block of Rogers Lane at 10:36 p.m. after a caller told authorities said that a family member was armed with a weapon. The caller was in fear for his or her safety, according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Department.
“As deputies attempted to make contact with the suspect, he turned toward the deputies; armed with a hammer and a sharp instrument,” the Sheriff’s Department stated. “The suspect attempted to attack a deputy; causing the deputy to fire his duty weapon, striking the suspect.”
In an update sent out Monday afternoon, following a protest in front of the Sheriff’s Department’s Highland station, authorities said deputies had asked the boy to drop his weapon and he refused. Then, a deputy fired on the teen.
“After the incident, as the suspect was being given medical aid, the deputies asked him why he did not drop the hammer,” the Sheriff’s Department said in its Monday afternoon update. “The suspect told them he wanted to die.”
The teenager underwent surgery at Loma Linda University Medical Center and was on life support, according to his mother, Elizabeth Camacho.
A candlelight vigil was held Sunday night for Alvarez. Dozens of people marched around the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, carrying signs that asked, “Why did [the] San Bernardino Sheriff Dept. shoot Joshua Alvarez?”
Alvarez and his brother had been fighting before deputies were called to the scene, according to Camacho. The teen was also wearing headphones when authorities arrived, his mother added.
At the protest Monday, family, friends and members of the community called for an independent investigation into the deputy-involved shooting, which some said was an example of ongoing police brutality.
“It’s not the first time that it’s happened, and it’s not the first time that we see a minor being mistreated by the people that are supposed to serve and protect our community,” activist Emilio Amaya said. “We want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”