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Dyer: Officers showed great restraint before man with air rifle was fatally shot

Dyer says officers showed great restraint before fatal shooting of suspect

A man equipped with an air rifle fired multiple rounds at officers in Fresno on Friday, July 21 before he was fatally shot by police.
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A man equipped with an air rifle fired multiple rounds at officers in Fresno on Friday, July 21 before he was fatally shot by police.

Officers showed “an incredible amount of restraint” before shooting a man who fired multiple rounds at Fresno police and bystanders Friday night, Chief Jerry Dyer said Monday.

Reuben Maya, 37, was killed by an officer as Maya was aiming the rifle at another officer during a standoff at a motel on Parkway Drive near Olive Avenue, Dyer said. Police body cameras and a video taken by a bystander provide evidence of that, he added.

The shots fired by Maya from what police later learned was an air rifle penetrated the sheet metal on a police vehicle and a civilian SUV during the incident and were capable of killing an officer, Dyer said. Officers fired two shots at Maya before the third, fatal round hit Maya in the chest.

Reuben Maya Fresno Police Department

Police say Maya served a prison term for domestic violence and was involved in a domestic violence incident earlier Friday night at another location where he reportedly broke a window and pointed his rifle at a man in a child custody dispute.

After a weekend review of evidence in the case, Dyer provided a chronology of the incident:

At 9:44 p.m., police received 911 calls that a man armed with a rifle was threatening people at the Parkway Inn with both a rifle and a pistol. He also pointed the rifle at the head of one men before ordering him and several other people to go back inside.

Officers arrived within two minutes and were able to see that Maya was armed with a rifle and also what appeared to be a handgun. They tried to establish communication with him, but Maya did not respond. Police told motel guests to stay in their rooms.

Maya, shouting profanities, put the rifle out a motel room window and began firing. He then opened the door and fired more rounds. Officers took cover, but did not return fire. Police were not certain what type of gun Maya was shooting, but noted that it had a thick barrel, possibly indicating that it was equipped with a noise suppressor.

At 11:27 p.m., as Maya was pointing the weapon at an officer, another officer fired his rifle at Maya, missing. A second officer also fired his rifle, and also missed. Maya then threw the rifle back into the motel room through a broken window and jumped through the window, back into the motel room.

About 11:37 p.m., Maya came back out of the room, shouting obscenities, and was ordered by officers not to go back inside. Maya went back in the room and pointed the rifle at an officer and a third officer fired the fatal round from a distance. Maya was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center, but was pronounced dead.

In addition to the air rifle and pistol in the room, police also found another air pistol in Maya’s car.

Because Maya was convicted of domestic violence, he would be prohibited from owning or buying a firearm in California, but Dyer said he does not know of any law that would keep him from buying an air rifle or pistol.

According to information provided by ammunition manufacturers, a .22 caliber rifle can fire a bullet at a velocity of about 1,300 feet per second. Some air rifle manufacturers, including Ruger and Beeman, produce guns that can equal or exceed that velocity.