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21-Year-Old Fatally Shot by Deputies Responding to Robbery in East L.A. Was Armed, Sheriff’s Department Alleges

Anthony Vargas is seen in an image posted at a memorial in East Los Angeles on Aug. 12, 2018.

Anthony Vargas is seen in an image posted at a memorial in East Los Angeles on Aug. 12, 2018.

A 21-year-old man who was fatally shot by deputies responding to a robbery in East L.A. was armed when he got into a fight with them, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.

The family of Anthony Vargas has been adamant he was not involved in criminal activity nor part of the robbery authorities responded to around 2 a.m. Sunday.

“He will not go down as this criminal out on the streets,” Vargas’ mother, Lisa, said hours after learning of her son’s death.

But authorities have since said that Vargas war armed and pulled out a firearm after getting into a fight with two deputies. It happened just as the deputies were responding to a call about an armed robbery in an apartment complex at the corner of North Mednik Avenue and Floral Drive in East Los Angeles.

Hours after the deadly shooting, deputies said two suspected robbers remained at large while Vargas’ possible role in the crime remained unclear. The Sheriff’s Department has since indicated the investigation into his possible involvement is ongoing.

When deputies arrived at the scene early Sunday, they were directed by the victim to a group of people at the complex, authorities said. The group then dispersed, with people allegedly fleeing in all different directions.

A man who took off running in the courtyard and fell down was spotted by another sheriff’s unit that was driving by, authorities said. That man was later identified as Anthony Vargas.

He allegedly got into a fight with the deputies, and authorities allege he pulled out a weapon during the confrontation.

“During the physical altercation between the suspect and the two responding deputies, the suspect retrieved a firearm from his waistband, fearing for their safety both deputies fired their duty weapons at the suspect,” a sheriff’s news release stated.

A loaded semi-automatic handgun was recovered from the scene, according to the release.

Upon learning of the young man’s death on Sunday, the Vargas family said they were looking into hiring an attorney and obtaining surveillance video from the apartment complex. That footage could show what exactly happened in the moments leading up to the deadly shooting, the family said.

“I’m going to do everything in my power to find justice for my son,” Vargas’ mother told KTLA.

She described him as “loving” and said he led bible study groups and worked for a church warehouse.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.