Video, Photos Show Suspect Was Armed When Shot by Deputies in Lynwood: Sheriff

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Photos and video released Sunday by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department show a 28-year-old man was armed with a handgun when he was fatally shot by deputies near a gas station in Lynwood, officials said.

A video still frame provided by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department appears to show a suspect holding a gun at a Lynwood gas station.
A video still frame provided by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department appears to show a suspect holding a gun at a Lynwood gas station.

At 10:53 a.m. Saturday, authorities received the first of six 911 calls regarding a man in the area of Long Beach Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue, sheriff’s Capt. Steven Katz said at a news conference. Some callers said the man was armed; others reported that he had fired six or seven rounds into the air in a residential neighborhood, according to the captain.

Addressing reporters at the Hall of Justice, sheriff’s officials displayed surveillance footage that they said shows the suspect crossing a street -- while carrying a gun in his hand -- before walking out of the camera’s view.

The man, later identified as Nicholas Robertson, briefly entered a nearby pizza restaurant, where witnesses saw him carrying the firearm, Katz said. Although there was no indication that the suspect attempted to rob the business, people inside described his behavior as “bizarre” and “erratic,” the captain said.

"He sounded angry about something," Juan Roberto, 18, an employee at Chico's Pizza parlor, told the Los Angeles Times. "I don't understand English that much but I know that he wasn't making sense."

After the armed man exited the restaurant and was again visible on surveillance footage, two deputies arrived at the scene, got out of their patrol vehicle and contacted him, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Robertson did not comply with the deputies’ “repeated requests to drop the weapon,” Katz said, noting that there were several members of the public in the immediate area at the time.

“The suspect presented a threat to the deputies and to the community,” the captain said.

Another video shown at Sunday’s press conference appears similar to a 29-second clip obtained by KTLA from a witness, in which the deputies open fire as the man is walking away from them.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department provided this still image from surveillance footage that the department says shows a man holding a gun before he was shot and killed by deputies in Lynwood on Dec. 12, 2015.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department provided this still image from surveillance footage that the department says shows a man holding a gun before he was shot and killed by deputies in Lynwood on Dec. 12, 2015.

Katz said the shooting occurred after Robertson turned toward the deputies while holding the gun, which he “retained … throughout the event.”

One of the deputies fired 17 rounds and the other fired 16 rounds, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

The witness's footage shows that several of those shots were fired at the man after he fell to the ground and began crawling.

There was no evidence that the deputies were shot at by the suspect, who was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Katz. No one else was injured.

A .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun was located at the scene, underneath Robertson, the captain said. No rounds were inside the weapon when it was recovered, Katz said, adding that two live rounds were found outside of the man’s grasp, indicating that “he had additional ammunition.”

When asked what may have prompted Robertson's behavior, the captain said he had possibly been involved in "some domestic discord," but did not elaborate.

Robertson's mother told his wife, Nekesha Robertson, shortly before the shooting that her son was under the influence of alcohol, The Times reported.

"He's more like a child," Nekesha Robertson said of her husband when he drank. "A child who needs love."

She told The Times that she was on her way to get him -- and had even stopped at the Arco gas station where he would eventually die -- before the shooting occurred.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell said to reporters that authorities were learning "more and more about the suspect," who had "prior contacts with law enforcement" before Saturday's encounter. Details of those contacts were not disclosed.

Family members of Nicholas Robertson, 28, provided this image. They identified him as the man fatally shot by sheriff's deputies in Lynwood on Dec. 12, 2015.
Family members of Nicholas Robertson, 28, provided this image. They identified him as the man fatally shot by sheriff's deputies in Lynwood on Dec. 12, 2015.

In an interview with The Times, Nicholas Robertson's wife said he did not engage in crime, adding that the couple had three children -- two 6-year-old-twins, a boy and girl, and a 7-year-old daughter.

"They will not get away with it," Nekesha Robertson said, standing outside the gas station where the shooting occurred, according to the newspaper. "My kids will see justice."

More than a dozen protestors gathered at the scene on the night of the shooting, and some came together again near Sunday's press conference.

At the gathering, community activist Najee Ali said an independent investigation was necessary, "because the police can’t investigate themselves properly.”

The deputies involved in the shooting have been reassigned from field duty, pending a multi-agency investigation, in accordance with protocol, sheriff's officials said.

Anyone with information about the incident was asked to call the Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477, or by texting the letters TIPLA plus the tip to 274637, or by visiting lacrimestoppers.org.

KTLA's Ashley Soley-Cerro contributed to this report.

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