Man shot, killed by Fresno County deputies at Clovis home

The Fresno BeeApril 10, 2014 

Fresno County sheriff's deputies shot and killed a 23-year-old man early Thursday at a home in a rural area east of Buchanan High School.

The man was identified by sheriff's officials as Robert James Van Camp, 23, of Clovis.

Deputies responded to a call from Van Camp's mother that he had a gun and was suicidal, sheriff's spokesman Deputy Chris Curtice said.

Curtice said deputies have responded to Van Camp's home -- located on Sunnyside Avenue south of Teague Avenue and north of Nees Avenue -- frequently in the past three years, mostly for disturbance calls. He didn't elaborate.

Deputies were told Van Camp reportedly made threats to kill himself and other family members. Van Camp also allegedly made statements regarding committing "suicide by cop," Curtice said. A family member also said, "If deputies don't hurry, someone is going to get shot," Curtice said.

Deputies responding around 2:30 a.m. approached the home on foot because of the nature of the call. The deputies met the man outside the home. He turned toward deputies armed with a handgun and was shot, Curtice said. Two deputies each fired more than once, striking him multiple times.

Deputies performed CPR on the man, but he died at the scene, Curtice said. No one else was hurt in the incident.

Law enforcement officers swarmed the area after hearing a call for help from the deputies on scene.

Friend Ashley Reynolds, 26, of Clovis, said Van Camp leaves behind a fiancé and infant son who is 2 to 3 months old. He worked for his father's heating and air conditioning business and enjoyed bowling with friends, off-roading, dirt biking and deer hunting, she said.

Van Camp wasn't a dangerous person, Reynolds said, who expressed anger about her friend's death.

"He was just having some depression issues ... They should have talked him out of it," Reynolds said of deputies who responded. "They could have helped him ... For them to show up and do what they did -- it's just disgusting to me."

A neighbor down the street from the shooting, who asked to be identified only as Josh, said he heard people yelling in an argument nearby around 2 a.m.

He also said he heard a man yell for kids to get inside the house, and then around 2:45 to 3 a.m., he heard seven gunshots.

Van Camp was living at and taking care of the property, which is owned by a veterinarian, Josh said.

No more details were available about what caused deputies to shoot Van Camp, Curtice said. An internal investigation is underway. The deputies involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave.

Along with sheriff homicide detectives, investigators from the sheriff's Internal Affairs Unit, and the district attorney's shooting team also responded Thursday, Curtice said.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact sheriff's Detective Hector Palma at (559) 600-8204, or the sheriff's office at (559) 600-3111.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386, cgeorge@fresnobee.com or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.

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