Crime

Fresno officer fatally shoots armed suspect

A carjacking suspect who aimed a sawed-off shotgun at the face of an undercover Fresno police detective was shot and killed by the detective early Friday.

Fresno police identified the dead man as Juan Castellanos, 29. Castellanos was on parole but does not have any history of early release from Fresno County Jail, police said.

He was shot west of Highway 99 near the intersection of Hughes and Hammond avenues, a neighborhood just north of Olive Avenue and less than a mile from Roeding Park.Castellanos was a suspect in an alleged carjacking late Thursday night in the 3600 block of East Madison Avenue, in a central Fresno neighborhood about five miles from where he was shot.

Police said an armed carjacker forced a man to drive him around Fresno, down to Fowler and then to an area near Lafayette and Hammond avenues in Fresno — a block from where Castellanos was shot.Once there, the carjacker ordered the man out of the car.

The man ran from the car and began knocking on doors in the neighborhood. A neighbor called police, who surrounded the area.

Just after midnight, Castellanos approached the driver’s side of the undercover detective’s unmarked car and pointed a sawed-off shotgun at the officer’s face from about 1 foot away, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.

The window on the driver’s side, where the detective was sitting, was rolled down. The detective was looking down the street at the carjacking victim’s car when Castellanos walked up and startled him, Dyer said. Dyer didn’t identify the detective, but said he is a veteran officer assigned to the night detective unit.

“He feared for his life,” Dyer said. “Our detective was simply trying to survive.”

The detective fired several rounds into Castellanos’ chest. Dyer said Castellanos staggered and fell face first on top of the sawed-off shotgun, which was strapped to his body.

How the detective was able to fire so quickly in the face of danger is part of the investigation. Police spokesman Jeff Cardinale said the detective’s gun may have been easily accessible at the moment.

The detective is on paid leave, which is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.

Castellanos was taken to Community Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

It was the second officer-involved shooting of the year for the department. There were also two at this point last year.

The gunfire woke up Ron Behlen, who lives across the street from where Castellanos was shot. He said his wife thought she heard six shots, but he only heard four.Behlen looked out his window and saw the street filled with police cruisers. In the morning, there was still blood in the street where Castellanos died.

Behlen said he was surprised that the violence happened on his street, which he said is usually quiet. He has lived in the house on Hammond Avenue since 1946, when his parents moved into the home.

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