Los Angeles police opened fire on a man who held a knife to a woman's throat at a Van Nuys homeless services center Saturday afternoon, killing the man and leaving the woman hospitalized, authorities said.
The incident occurred at the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission – a "faith-based compassion ministry" that offers meals, shelters, training and treatment for homeless people, according to its website.
A man who frequents the mission's Van Nuys Help Center, at 6425 Tyrone Ave., threatened and began attacking people with a large knife, according to witness James Shepard, a disabled veteran.
Los Angeles Police Department officers were called to the location about 1 p.m. for a report of a man assaulting – stabbing or cutting – two female victims, LAPD Sgt. Frank Preciado said.
The man put a knife to the throat of one of the women, police Cmdr. Alan Hamilton said Saturday evening, confirming a description of the scene provided to KTLA by Shepard earlier in the day.
Responding officers repeatedly told the man to drop the knife but he did not let go of the weapon, according to Shepard, who said the police fired nonlethal rounds.
Hamilton confirmed the officers talked to the man and fired bean-bag rounds. But police felt the woman's life was in imminent danger, so they ultimately opened fire with live ammunition, Hamilton said.
"There wasn't an opportunity to de-escalate the situation," Preciado said. "Whenever someone is assaulting someone with a sharp weapon ... officers are forced to take action."
The gunshots struck the man and the woman; both were hospitalized in critical condition. The man, who has not been identified, died at the hospital.
Police said the woman's condition was not known as of mid-evening.
Shepard, who recorded cellphone video of the incident, said the man had wrestled one person to the ground before putting a knife up to the woman's throat.
Another woman was injured in the knife attack. She was treated for injuries that were not life threatening and was released from the hospital, Hamilton said.
No officers were injured, LAPD stated on Twitter. It's not clear if more than one officer fired or how many rounds were discharged, Preciado said.
Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart confirmed a 40-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman were hospitalized – initially in critical condition – and a 47-year-old woman was transported with injuries that were not life threatening.
Preciado said the suspect was believed to be in his 30s, and his relationship to the victims was unknown. Shepard told KTLA that the attacker had drug problems and was apparently banned from the shelter for aggressive behavior.
LAPD's Force Investigation Division will investigate the police shooting.