A robbery suspect who police said would not surrender or show his hands was nearly shot to death by officers Wednesday morning in central Fresno.
Lt. Joe Gomez, a spokesman for the police department, was one of the first officers to arrive on a canal bank where the bandit identified as Roy Salinas refused to surrender. Gomez said he was “close, really close” to shooting the man before another officer knocked the suspect to his knees with four beanbag rounds from a shotgun.
The incident began about 10:30 a.m. when officers received reports that a man had severely beaten and robbed a 59-year-old woman at a convenience store near McKinley Avenue and First Street. The suspect walked to a canal bank near Millbrook Avenue. He washeading along the bank when officers arrived; they ordered him to surrender.
Gomez said another officer arrived and the suspect began to go the other way when he encountered Gomez, who drew his gun.
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“I had my gun on him and told him, ‘Get on the ground, get on the ground,’” Gomez said. Instead, the man kept his hands inside a backpack he was carrying.
Gomez said as Salinas traveled along the canal, he pulled a knife out from the backpack.
Gomez said it took “great restraint” not to open fire. He ordered another officer to fire the beanbag shotgun. The suspect was struck four times in the back and fell to his knees, then laid flat and dropped the knife.
As officers moved in to handcuff him, the suspect dived into the canal and swam to the other side. Officers ran to that side and ordered him to climb a ladder to get out. He was then taken into custody. Salinas was taken to a hospital with moderate injuries from the beanbags.
Gomez said the woman who was robbed was in much worse condition, having been grabbed by her hair and punched in the face and body repeatedly. She was treated for a possible broken nose, broken jaw and pain in an arm. He said the suspect is a large man and “it looks like he went beyond what he needed to do.”